Today is my brothers 37th birthday.
(These are not his balloons, I just can't find a picture of him with balloons)
It's not the first birthday he's had that I haven't been around for, but it's the first birthday he's had where I haven't seen him on or around his birthday for my whole life. It's actually been seven full months since I've seen him at all, now that I live on the opposite end of the country, and it feels odd to be so far away.
For better or worse my big brother has been my friend, my protector and even sometimes (although he won't admit it) my confidant, my conscience, my matchmaker (he hated that all his friends wanted to date me), my sounding board and (sometimes, as brothers can be) a pain in my ass for most of my life. He was a typical brother in a lot of ways. Some days I wanted to kill him and other days he was my best friend. More days than not, he was the only person in the world that could understand what I was going through because he was going through it too. Unless of course, he was busy hitting me with baseball bats or frying pans (my family will understand this) …….. LOL (no he was not abusive)
One of the great things about growing up in a "Broken Home" when you have siblings is, that you don't go through that process alone. You have someone else who is just as confused as you are. Someone who you can ask questions or just cry with. Even if sometimes you don't like them, they are in the end still your family and you love them. My brother and I didn't always live in the same house but we were (for the most part) always there for each other.
Even as we got older and "our" friends became "my" friends or "his" friends, we still managed to stay close. We would go out to dinner with friends together, we would make runs to Costco together, sometimes he would even call me to 'hop' across the border with him. When I decided to go to University (as much as he would never admit it) he was proud of me and maybe a little excited for me to follow my dreams.
When I moved out here I knew he worried about me. I knew he would miss me. I also knew he would never openly admit that.
What I didn't realize was just how much he loved me, until I came back to visit (right around my birthday) for the holidays. I had only been gone about six months but you could tell that in that short amount of time he had missed me. My brother knew I was about to head off on my first solo adventure and had been asking me what I wanted for Christmas from my dad (we do the holidays with my dad in January because it's just easier with all the different schedules), so I had explained to my brother the few travel related items I had asked for and why. To my utter surprise and shock, during our Christmas celebration, my brother handed me a package and explained; "it's not for Christmas". I didn't know what to think but as I opened the package, I started to cry.
My brother had gotten me a GoPro camera for my birthday so that I could properly document my adventures, for however long I travel. The gift had actually been from all of my parents, my brother and his wife but as I found out later, my brother had taken the initiative to talk to everyone about it. He had explained to them all why this mattered and how this gift would be important as I traveled. This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but for me this was a sign that my brother had not only gone out of his way to think of me and what would really matter to me as far as a gift goes, but that he had also taken the time to speak with my parents, explain why this was the perfect gift and then go out to find it.
As I sat in my father's living room crying I realized for the first time since I had become an adult just how much my brother loved me. Just how much I missed running to Costco with him for no reason. Just how much those moments inside Toys R Us looking for the 'correct' Simpsons Lego Mini figs mattered to me.
This was one of those moments.
A memory that will forever be etched into my heart because I knew, even though he thought I was crazy (or as he put it "We all think you've lost your mind but we still love you and will support you"), he knew this journey mattered to me and he wanted me to be able to document it. He wanted to do whatever small part he could to support me in my "craziness" and show me that he knew how much this journey really mattered to me.
My brother is one of those people that does not realize just how brave he really is. He doesn't think of himself as strong or independent but he is. He doesn't see himself as a force to be reckoned with but I know better. I know that anything he sets his mind to he can achieve. I know that deep down he is a teddy bear who loves with his whole heart. I also know he is cursing me for posting pictures of him right now ……lol……
My brother is the kind of guy that worries about telling me bad news because he knows I worry. He knows I'm emotional, so he always softens the blow of bad news with ice cream or a trip to build-a-bear (yes this may seem like a childish way to go about it but he does it because he cares). He wants me to know that even with the bad news, life is still good. The world has not ended and even though I'm upset, in the end, it will be okay.
One of the amazing things about family is no matter how far they are, you know they are always around for you (even for the stupid stuff). So last week when I asked him to pick up something for me from the USA and send it to me here in Edmonton I knew he would do it (I wasn't sure how long it would take him, because my brother doesn't tend to do things in a hurry, unless he knows it's life or death) but to my surprise he not only did what I had asked within the week, he had also sent me the items before weeks end.
So today on his birthday when I can't be there to hug him, tell him how much I love him or take him out for a meal fit for a king, I want to share this with him………
Because when it comes down to it, I think he misses me just as much as I miss him <3
I'm so very proud to be able to call you my brother and my friend. I wish you every ounce of happiness the world has to give.
Most of all, I hope that you follow your dreams, no matter how big or small they are!