Tuesday, June 18, 2013

fourteen years

Dear Em,
My youngest brother was born when I was 14 years old. For some, it would have been difficult to relate to a sibling who was 14 years younger, but your uncle Jared and I were the best of buds. When he was a baby, I rocked him to sleep & sang to him at night. As he grew, I taught him things like how to make a fishie face & how to say I love you in German (picturing him running around saying "ich liebe dich" still makes my heart happy).

There may have been a time when I taught him that if he sat very still & absolutely quietly on a specific pillow with a certain pair of fuzzy yellow footie pajamas on (fondly referred to as his ducky pajamas), he could lay eggs. It was absolutely adorable until my mom reached into the refrigerator for some eggs to cook, & your uncle Jared cried because those were his eggs. I got into a little bit of trouble for being the egg laying teacher.

When anyone else reached for your uncle Jared, he would exclaim "No! I'm Julie's!" There were times when people thought he was my son. Your Nonnie would actually slip sometimes & say, "do you know what your son did" instead of "do you know what your brother did."

And then I went to college, a six hour drive away, when your uncle Jared was four. My mom told me that he cried some nights & exclaimed, "I hate college!" It was hard. It's not the same being part of a family when you're not there for the day to day, when your day to day life is not intertwined with the day to day life of your family. You miss a lot (especially since I started college before free long distance cell phones & skype). I missed your uncle Jared's first day of kindergarten, when he first rode a bike, most of his soccer games, school assemblies, his first day of middle school, school banquets, his first day of high school, track meets, the day he got his drivers permit, ROTC functions, the day he got his license, & prom. I missed bad days & good days. I tried to be apart of as much as I could during visits, but it doesn't replace everything I couldn't be there for. We made sure we were there this June. I was not going to miss cheering for him as he walked across his high school graduation stage (& cheering for my parents who saw five kids through high school graduation- we didn't always make it so easy for them).

That boy sticking out his tongue is your uncle Jared.

I missed a lot, & I don't know him as well as I did when he was four, but I know your uncle Jared is amazing. He's so empathetic, kind, generous, funny, & naturally smart. I think he's actually the smartest one out of all of us siblings. Now, 14 years later, it's your uncle Jared who is going off to college. I'm so incredibly proud of him & everything he's become. I'm also really excited for him. I know he can do amazing things.

There's a lot more distance that separates us, & I don't think we'll ever have the day to day again, but I hope your uncle Jared & I can always be buds. I feel so fortunate to call him my brother & your uncle. I'm looking forward to seeing the places he goes, the things he accomplishes, & the life he leads.

I love you so,

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