It's early Thanksgiving morning and my head is pounding from the previous night, but as I sit watching my little cousin draw a picture; with the house and all of us in it and caption it with, "I love you" and everyone's name, even the dogs my heart begins to swell with joy and my head beings to calm down. In this very moment, I can't help but feel extremely grateful for the three little boys, that I get to call my cousins.
Fast forwards a couple of hours and I'm sitting around the table with all three of my cousins: Tyler, Abram and Daniel. Tyler is a 16-year-old, Abram is 12 years old, and Daniel is 7 years old. Watching my three boys interact with each other and seeing Daniel's excitement over Abram talking is possibly the single greatest moment of my Thanksgiving day.
See this is our first major holiday since we almost lost Abram, so the Thanksgiving atmosphere is intensified tenfold. As I sit here with my boys I imagine this playing out, without Abram and it is unbearable. These three little people mean more to me than they could ever fathom. They have taught me how to love unconditionally, made me feel important and loved, they make my world shine.
With all that being said here are my top three favorite things about being the oldest cousin.
1. Getting to watch someone's entire life is pretty amazing.
Getting to watch them grow is such an amazing thing. Tyler is driving, flying planes, and has a girlfriend; and I'm just sitting here like I remember waiting for you to be born and now here you are all grown up-- it's crazy! Sometimes I sit and think about how crazy it is that I have known this child from the very beginning, I've watched him grow into a sweet and handsome young man.
When Abram was born that changed the whole dynamic of our cousin relationship, before Sister and I had been all Tyler's, he was a little jealous but that's expected. Watching Abram grow up was so cool, because it was awesome to see how different his little personality was from Tyler's. Abram has always been a goofball, like me, always cracking jokes and being silly. There was never a dull moment with Abram.
In December of 2008, we got an early Christmas present, when Daniel was born nearly three months early, he was a welcomed addition to our little gang. He was so tiny and I didn't get to see him for awhile because he was fighting for his little life thanks to his mother. Daniel was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, so he is my special little boy. Like most FAS children, he is the sweetest, most loving little dude there ever was. He's constantly telling you how much he loves you and giving you compliments. Getting to see him grow from this itty-bitty baby to a little boy who likes to read and write has been so awesome.
It's truly indescribable how cool it is to be able to say you've known someone their whole entire life and to get to observe the beauty of the life cycle.
2. They remind me to enjoy the simple things.
With the growing responsibilities of "adulting," its so easy to get stressed out and forget to find the joy in the most simple things in life. That's probably one reason why I love kids so much; their ability to find an abundant amount of joy in something so simple as a balloon is so powerful to me.
When I'm with my cousins I am reminded to stop and enjoy life for a minute. When I'm with them, I'm reminded of how beautiful the simplicity of life is. When I'm outside throwing the football, with Daniel, I realize how amazing, loving and faithful my God is. Two of my cousins shouldn't even be here right now, but here we all are, my entire small, but wonderful family, all together; how I wish my Grandma was here right now. I know she is smiling down on us all -- things just got real intense, but I'm so thankful right now I can't help it.
3. Getting to inspire and be inspired by them.
This may be the best reason why being their older cousin is amazing. I love seeing how they look up to me and each other. They give me a reason to strive for the most and set a good example. I want them to see that they can do whatever they want as long as they have the drive, the faith, and the passion. I want to make them proud of me, like they have made me proud of them. As far as inspiration goes, I think this article speaks for itself. I hope that, in someway, I will inspire them as much as they have inspired me.
Being their older cousin and friend is one of my favorite roles in life.