Dear Little Brother,
I still remember you as a three-foot-tall, rosy cheeked little boy staring up at me, saying, “Sissy, play with me.” Now your 18th birthday is a few days away, and you're counting down the hours until you can call yourself an adult. You will be graduating high school in June. I don’t think I have ever felt as old as you make me feel these days. But, I don’t think you could ever make me any prouder.
Over the years, you have grown up. I’ve stopped hearing Sissy as my name, and I no longer see that crib blanket with the teddy bear on it. I don’t even think you'd know where to find the blanket if you tried. I went from watching you drive a battery-powered truck, to watching you getting your license and buying a real truck, in what seems like the blink of an eye.
Sometimes, I catch myself having to do a double take because when I look at you, I still see the little boy you were. When you get excited, your brown eyes still widen and light up the way they used to. You still have the Pillsbury dough boy laugh when something’s really funny. You even still get nervous talking to girls. Yes, I am aware you are going to kill me for writing that.
As most brothers and sisters experience, we have had our fights over the years. Some were physical, beating each other with pool noodles while running around the house. During others, we would yell. Once you hit puberty, you would ignore me and say I was a pest at times, just as I once said about you. It’s been a roller coaster. It’s safe to say for some years we were closer than for others. Even with just a three-and-a-half year age difference, it seems that once I got out of a phase, you entered it. At times this broke my heart, but I let you get through it and thought about how you must have felt all those times I ignored you. I would say “I love you brother" even when I knew I wouldn’t hear it back. There were times like those times where you acted like you didn’t hear me, but I knew based on either the look in your eyes or the smirk you’d get that you were listening. Now that we have both gotten older, we have a stronger bond than ever. I can finally say that you are one of my best friends. Who would’ve thought that our parents would be right?
With you becoming an adult, I have a promise to make to you. I’ve said this to you a thousand times. As your big sister, I promise to keep my distance as you navigate yourself through adulthood. I promise to always be there for you when you need my help or my advice. I will not force you to make a decision you do not want to. I promise to never tell you, “I told you so” after you make a mistake. All I want for you to have in this life is happiness. If something or someone I don’t like makes you happy, I will still be there to support you.
In return, I ask for you to make one promise to me. Continue to be the man you are. Your friends respect you and love you. You should hear how they talk about you when you’re not around. Those two friends that you bring everywhere with you; both have so much love in their hearts for you, and think so highly of who you are, and take pride in calling you their best friend, just as I take pride in telling people you are my brother. I’ve never met a 17-year-old boy who is as respectful and compassionate towards others as you are. Please do not lose that. Promise me that you will continue to walk away from negativity, and to continue to live life and love life. You’re an amazing man. I can’t wait to see what the future brings you.