Happy Birthday Mason. I can’t believe that you’re eighteen years old. I was four years old when Mom and Dad shared the news that I would soon be a big sister. When they asked me if I’d rather have a brother or sister, I answered excitedly that I wanted a baby sister and immediately began making plans. (Being the only girl in my daycare class had finally taken its toll.) We were all three standing in the kitchen when they gently explained to me that you were a boy and I was flabbergasted. I can remember staring at the nearest wall for what seemed like eternity. “Impossible,” I thought, “How could this be?” Hopefully the doctor was wrong and I started wishing that you were the opposite gender until August 30, 1994. Today, eighteen years later, I’m writing to explain how you’ve grown on me more than I care to admit. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t trade you for anything, not even ten sisters.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to apologize for a few things that happened in our childhood. First, I’m sorry for tricking you to take afternoon naps by faking to be asleep before silently rolling off the bed and tiptoeing out. I’m sorry for putting your little gold locks in pigtails for fun and stuffing Nerf balls down your shirt to make you look chesty. (You can thank me later for not posting the picture online.). I’m also sorry for scrunching you into a laundry hamper. (But, when I figure out how to post that video gem, I will. It’s hilarious.) Lastly, I’m sorry for telling you that, “there ain’t no Santa Clause” just because you wouldn’t share the plastic blue rocking horse so that I could surf on it. (I quoted the famous movie line because it was the meanest “lie” that I could think of…I use the word “lie” because I was still skeptical about Santa at this point in my life.)
I am so lucky to have a brother like you. Everything that you have been forced to overcome in your short life has made you such a compassionate and inspiring person. You have an incredibly caring and deep thoughtful side that is fascinating because of the rarity in which you present it. I will never forget the first time that you visited me when I moved away to college. You brought me my electric toothbrush and the charger. Apparently you insisted to Mom that I probably forgot to take it with me and she couldn’t talk you out of bringing it (even though she tried explaining that I didn’t use it anymore.) To this day, the brush goes unused in the cupboard under the bathroom sink. The only reason that I don’t throw it away is because it reminds me of you and that specific instance of your thoughtfulness. It truly makes my heart ache.
I know that some things do not always come easy to you. I also know that you are scared of getting older because you haven’t found something that interests you enough to make a career out of. Do whatever makes you the most happy and if you don’t know what that is yet, doing nothing is not the answer. By doing nothing you can’t make mistakes, but you also can’t have successes. When you want to do something don’t rationalize that you may not be good enough, that you may not know enough, or that you might try to do it later when you feel more like it. You are good enough and you have resources to learn, so go after it! Sometimes I think that your easygoing facade and “I-don’t-know-what-to-do-so-I’ll-do-nothing” behaviors stifle your great personality. Don’t let it. Don’t be afraid. I am here for you.
I’ll never forget about five years ago when we saw a little boy that looked exactly like your 4-year-old self in Culver’s and I immediately started bawling uncontrollably. Overcome with emotion, it made me wonder if I read you enough Berenstain Bears books or if I twirled the locks at the nape of your neck enough when you were that little boys age.
Whenever I see a little girl and her younger brother it takes me back to our wonderful and loving childhood together. We certainly had our share of sibling rivalries but I will never forget playing “Indians,” “Rodeo,” and “Circus” with you on the backyard swing set. I will never forget playing “School” and “House” while watching Arthur in the basement or acting out that insanely in-depth imaginary game around the yard. What was it called again? Ah yes, “Subdivision.” That game had so many invisible neighborhood characters, we had to write down their names (and their assorted personalities) on a white board in the garage. Which brings me to another thing that I want to apologize for: All of the make-believe nonsense that I put you through whenever I dragged you into an imaginary world with me. I’m sure that you had fun too, but at least forgive me for always making you be the servant boy when we played, “Ship.”
You’ll always be my little Johnny, Junie, Maxwell, and any other ridiculous nickname that for some reason I called you during your eighteen years. I love and will look out for you for as long as I live.