I’m a little emotional right now. Today was my little brother’s high-school graduation. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, actually. How is it that the little dumb-ass is 18 years old and all grown up!? I don’t get it. I remember graduating in this same place, just three years ago. How has it gone by so fast, How is my then little freshmen brother now the one up on that same stage? All I know is I have about a million emotions going through my head and my heart is completely full. I walked in, as always fashionably a little late, right as my brother’s voice-over and pictures are playing on the screen. His voice was muffled and he was talking fast as he only had thirty seconds when it was recorded . It’s almost over when I, very surprisingly, hear “I want to thank my sister, for always being there for me.” I couldn’t help but tear up and want to go find and hug the boy. But instead I willed myself to sit down and kind of keep the tears on the down low. While sitting there, watching Justin laugh and joke around with his classmates up on that stage, I get a text from my husband. He was running a little late and had just arrived. “Where R U?” I can see him peeking his head through the window and I squiggle my way to the doors to let him in. By the time I squiggled my way out he had made his way in. He just so happened to arrive and walk in at the same time as my best friend Bryant, whom I had graduated with under this same roof a few short years back. I smile my biggest most sincere smile and hug both the best friend and the husband before sitting back down. My three favorite boys, under one roof. I’m too happy to find the right words and so I just sit there, glowing silently. I get a text from Bryant telling me he’s behind me and I look back to see him laughing in his seat. I laugh back at him and snuggle closer to my husband as I watch my brother about to start a new part of his life. These moments tonight are ones I wish I could time freeze and look back on everyday. The love I have for these three, all very different but still in many ways equal, is something powerful and unshakable. They’re more than friends, or even best friends. They know me at my best and worst; Parts of me that I don’t let anyone see, they know like the back of their hands. All of them, blood-related or not, are undeniably my family. There’s a lot I want to say and have been wanting to say to all three that my voice doesn’t quite know how to find. So boys, these are letters from my heart. You’ll probably all tease me after I make you read this, but know I mean it every last word. Ahem.
Dear little brother,
I don’t know where to start. I guess, first of all, I’m so proud of you. You are such an amazing boy. I guess I should really say an amazing man, but to me, you’ll always be my little brother. And so I’m going to call you a boy, though everything about the person you’ve become now says “Man.” I think you should know that I admire you. I know daddy gives you a hard time and you probably hear more than you want to“Your sister does this.” and “Your sister does that.” It’s true that I was instilled with an unnaturally stubborn drive and if I want something, I get it. Daddy has that too, and I know that’s why he’s always on your case. But in some ways, I think what you have is better. I haven’t ever told you this, but I strive to be more like you. You’re sort of kind of my role model, even if you’re stupid and younger than me. You may take things at a slower pace, but there is no doubt in my mind that you’ll get it done, and in a calmer more graceful way than I ever did. You have this gentle spirit and patience that I’ve never been able to master. Though you were the youngest for so long, I am amazed at how perfect of a big brother you’ve become. Watching you with our younger siblings pretty much melts my heart. You’ve got a knack for this kid stuff, and as much of a spoiled brat as you were, maybe it taught you to spoil others. Years from now, you’ll be the best dad any kid could ever ask for. You have such a big heart, Justin. You love with all of it even when it gets you hurt. You’re kind and thoughtful and when I give you a hard time and say you’re a “Soft-hearted bitch” or whatever, know that I wouldn’t change that for the world. You’re wonderful, and I mean that. We’ve been through so much together. You’re my secret-keeper, my late-night-sitcom-watcher, My personal comedian, My favorite person to beat up, My telephone call when I’m crying too hard to talk to anyone else,My best friend. I know this year’s been really rough on you. I know you keep inside all of the hurt you’ve been through and that you’re still feeling, but I know you know if you need someone, I’m right here. I know the same for you. I’m really glad I didn’t kill you when I was younger because I couldn’t make it a minute without you today. I love you, little brother.
Oh,homie. We’ve been through it all, haven’t we? High-school,Crushes,Break-ups, New beginnings, Song lyrics, London, Paris, Train-Rides, Plain-Rides, Fights, And bigger fights, And ‘We’re not friends anymore this is serious’ kind of fights,…And always making up no matter what, And coming to my house at one in the morning just to say you’re sorry…And bringing roses to my work to make another guy mad…And crying in eachother’s arms and on the phone and in your car and…Yeah. I think it’s safe to say we’ve been through it all and then some. We’ve been best friends for more than four years now, you know that? There’s a lot of memories and hard work that goes into four years of true best friendship. There’s a lot of ‘I remember’s’ too. I remember our senior retreat and you complimenting me on something stupid (your signature move, I now know.) I remember you calling me after that, talking for three hours to my first ever friend of the opposite sex. I remember feeling special that a dude actually wanted to tell me his secrets. I remember that concert that I got lost at because you went crowd-surfing and so I obviously had to do it too. I remember falling asleep on your shoulder on the train in London. I remember the top of the Eiffel Tower and following you around the streets of Paris. I remember cuddling in your house watching some stupid movie. I remember HEB and hula hoops. I remember that time you were mad at me and dedicated that mean song to me. I remember being scared we wouldn’t be friends anymore after that. I remember, of course, being friends again days later. All these years came with a lot of times. A lot of bad times and good times, and when it comes to me and you, a lot of stupid arguments and dumb jealousies. Now, I think we’ve finally grown up. We’re both happy, and we’re both in relationships that are actually good for us and that make us happy. That’s really saying something, as opposed to where we’ve both been. & As nice as it is to say that we’re both in a good place and we can both be happy for the other now, there’s a lot that goes into knowing we’ve seen eachother through the lowest points in our lives too. The mistakes and the tears and the nights we thought we’d never get through…We got through together. Now look at us. Everything’s fallen into perfect place. But it’s great knowing that before the puzzle was all put together, we had eachother to make sure all the pieces would fit just right. I love you,Bryant Phamvu. You know how marriage has the whole, “For better or for worse.” thing? You and I have that, but in friendship form. You’re the only person in the world who isn’t related to me that I can throw ridiculous-baby-fits around. I like to think I’m the only person in the world who would forgive you for lying about life or death situations and forgetting to ever tell me the truth. For better or for worse,dude. Love, Your Antichrist. (‘Cuz you know…”If you mix ‘Christina’ around it kinda spells that!” Such infamous last words.)
You actually already know how I feel about you. But I want to say thank-you,because I don’t say it enough. You make me happy. You know gross things about me. You know my insecurities and my shortcomings and little details that I don’t even know about myself. I’ve never been known in the way you know me, not by anybody, not even by me. Thank-you for knowing me. Thank-you for letting me know you, and for not being perfect. I hate perfect. Thank-you for fighting with me and making me mad and never shutting up. Thank-you for being annoying. Thank-you for being a big butthole, because I think it makes me love you more. But thank-you for also being a good man, with a huge……heart (What did you think I was going to say,hmm?). Thank-you for doing this life thing with me, for making a promise to work it all out together. Thank-you for being the future daddy to our kids (years and years from now), And thank-you for agreeing to let me die first. It’s much appreciated, baby. Oh,and yes. Thank-you for not getting mad whenever the fire alarm thing goes off almost everytime I cook.