Happy Birthday, Will. You’re 14 now, and it makes me feel old.
I remember when you were a baby. I remember when you were just learning to walk, and I remember teaching you your alphabet and how to spell your name. I remember your first day of school, and I remember feeling completely distraught that I was never going to be in the same school as you to watch over you.
You’re taller than me, now. I mean, I’m a short-ass, so this day was always going to come, but it gets more and more noticeable all the time. (You’re growing so damn fast.) It was cute the day you realized that I was small — because before you saw Alex standing beside me and utterly dwarfing me, I was big to you. In your mind, I’m still big, because I’m your big sister and I’ve been right here with you through all the ups and downs. It throws you for a loop when the physical reality of my littleness collides with the me-in-your-mind.
You give the best hugs, and you have the purest heart I’ve ever known. When you love, you do so without reservation, without regard to convention, and without self-consciousness. You aren’t ashamed to hug me in front of your friends, or to tell me you love me in front of them. Even though I’m so much older, you constantly worry over my safety — physical, emotional, and medical. You take joy in the fact that you are now able to reciprocate the care I’ve always given you, and you find amusement in how I’m always thrown off-kilter by it.
In my mind, you’re my baby brother. Always have been, always will be. I love you, and we are alike in the way we love without holding back. I have tried to let you learn from my mistakes, covered your butt, and put myself between you and those who would hurt you. I have done all of these, and would not hesitate to do so again. I do these things not because it is a duty or a chore, but because I love you. Because to me, that is what love is: guiding, caring for, respecting, healing, protecting. And because you are my baby brother, I have always expected to do these for you. Receiving them in turn unbalances me, makes my heart glow and spill over.
But even as time continues to level the field little by little, we’re not quite on equal footing yet. 14 is not an easy age, not for anyone. But I hope you realize that I’m here, in my own odd and quiet way, if you ever need anything. I said this once to Liz, but I will say to you too: You are not alone. It might feel like it sometimes, but I promise you’re not.
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