Monday, August 26, 2013

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Dear Seth, 

As I sit here, I'm struggling to grasp that this is really happening. For all of my life, I've brushed off the thought of you leaving because I never wanted to confront the reality of you actually having to. Whenever a sibling has left the house, I knew it would be okay because I would have you there with me. But now I'm lost. I feel like I'm drowning. And I don't know how to resurface. 

I really don't know what to say right now. I've never had to do something this hard. You've always been the one who's put me in my place when need be. You've always been the one who's made me smile when I'm frustrated. You've always been the one who's made me feel confident, safe, and never alone. 

Throughout all of the trials of our childhood, you were right there next to me. We faced everything together. We formed the same friendships. We share the same memories. We tell the same stories. For us, there will never be a goodbye. I know you will be in my life until the day I die. 

Though you may not have noticed, you have served as my role model for the past seventeen years. 

One of the most important things that you've imparted on me is that it's okay to be comfortable with emotional expression. After years of observation, I began to realize that you approached emotions far differently than we were taught to. You were never one to suppress your emotions, despite the fact that we were raised to do so. When you were sad, you'd make it known. When you were happy, you'd make it known. When you were mad, you'd make it very well known. I remember when I called you a name one too many times and you punched me in the eye. Suffice it to say that your comfort with emotional expression, be it physical or verbal, left a very strong, and sometimes visible, impression on me. 

Seven Goldsteins. That's far more than the world is fit to handle. Though each and every one of us shares an unbreakable bond, it's no secret that you, me, and Avi have always been the trio. We've spent the majority of our lives together. The stories we share are endless. From the late night talks, to the sneaking out, to the trifectas, to the inexplicably ridiculous things we've done, we've always had a relationship of optimal closeness. I would go to both of you for anything, because I know that you'll be there for me, no matter what. But with all due respect to Avi, you and I have always shared a bond of superior closeness. We're a mere fifteen months apart. You've been in the grade above me for my entire life. We took baths together. We shared a room together (well, until my late night power-ranger playing pushed you to the brink of insanity and you tragically moved out). We rode bikes together. We consoled each other when things were bad in the house. We hit each other. We hated each other. We loved each other. I somewhat feel as if you have lived my life, and I have lived yours. We've gone through our ups and our downs, but I never once doubted that you were there for me. 

Something that I've always admired about you is your ability to walk into a room of one hundred people, and walk out with ninety eight new friends. I've always strived to emulate your outgoing nature. I have never once seen you doubt yourself, nor have I seen you too afraid to generate a conversation with a complete stranger. You have this charm about you that captures the heart of every person you meet. It's that same charm that ensures me that, no matter how well you do in school, one day you will end up far more successful than anyone else I know. You are indubitably the most likable person I have ever known. 

I have to thank you for something. You've always challenged me to be the best Gabriel Goldstein I could be. When we were younger, we played basketball together. I remember you pinching my nipples, forcing me to smile when I would get down on myself or frustrated. You've always pointed out when I'm being irrational. You've always told me to straighten up and cool down. Of the multitude of factors that have motivated me to get my frustration and anger under control, your influence was one of the most integral. Considering you're the epitome of "level headed," it was easy to just act according to your example. 

Another admirable character trait of yours is your ability to always be free-spirited and jovial. Very rarely have I seen little things break your spirit, or throw your day off. You have this attitude where the world is in your hands, and you are the ever-clever king. Having you around, both in the home and at school, has added a much needed element of excitement to my life. Whether it be singing and dancing in the car ride home from school, saying ridiculous things in ridiculous voices, going on spontaneous adventures, or just hilarious, though immature flashes of insanity, we've always managed to have a great time together. While I was doing school work and obsessing over attaining perfection, you were going to sleep before sunset. Now, it's quite clear to me that we aren't entirely similar, and that will likely never be who I am, but I do wish I could take it easy and just not care about some things like you do. 

You're short. I'm relatively tall. You're bulky. I'm slim. You're perpetually lighthearted. I'm often serious. You're immeasurably outgoing. I have to exert effort to make friends. You dislike sports. I love them. School isn't really your thing. School is very much my thing. What I am getting at here is that we are essentially opposites. We share different interests, different hobbies, and different strengths. Yet, despite all of the reasons in the world to not be so close, we've managed to become what we are: inseparable. I understand that many siblings can characterize their relationships as just that, but I'm not so sure they deserve to as much as we do. So many hardships and low points in our lives have molded us together more-so than most other siblings. Despite our dissimilarities, we have managed to warm up nicely to each other. That's a testament to just how important family is to both of us. It wouldn't matter to me if you were green, mentally handicapped, and animalistic, I would still take a bullet for you. You're the one who's been right there with me through every life experience. You're the one I've always turned to. You're the one I look up to.

When people ask me who my best friends are, I always include you. For some reason, that surprises them. They ponder how my best friend could also be my brother. They often tell me how cute it is that I  said that. But I've never understood that. How is that at all cute? It's simply true. We don't have the typical little brother-big brother relationship. We are separated only by age. We feel mutually comfortable asking each other for help. We've shared great times, sad times, bad times, and euphoric times. We've always been there for each other. We've always been mere feet away. So, what is cute about that? Nothing. If I were to describe our friendship in one word, I would use "improbable." It's not often that you find brothers who get along so well - who share the same friends so smoothly. You hated the fact that I was friends with "your" friends in Junior High. But, as time went on, "your" friends became our friends. You always looked out for me during the very delicate first years of high school. You made sure to reach out to me, include me, and make sure I felt comfortable. Some of the greatest times I've ever had in school were the times we met up in the halls during class by chance. We would sit in the bathroom and mess around. Things were so simple. I feel now that I took our last year for granted. Contrary to my final year with Eli, I do have regrets in this relationship. I regret not having spent more time with you. I regret not having asked you to hang out on a regular basis. I regret not having spent my final months nagging the hell out of you until you had no choice but to be my friend.

We woke up for school one morning last year. You walked into my room and coaxed me into going back to sleep. After you told me that we'd sleep for just a few more hours, you proceeded to crawl into bed next to me. Some may find our snuggle-filled morning strange. But I think that story perfectly characterizes our relationship. We're weird. We're controversial. We're awesome. And we're really, really close. I regret not having you over for more sleepovers this past year.

Today has been so strange.

I keep waiting for you to open the door and come upstairs.

I've checked your room many times since you left. I walk in, look around, realize the depressing nothingness, choke down tears, and walk out.

Driving in your car is even a struggle.

I tried to play basketball to ease my sadness. When that didn't work, I decided to eat my pain away. I'm not going to endorse that as an appropriate coping mechanism, but it did certainly help me.

This year is going to be inexplicably strange. If we're being honest, I'm not scared; I'm terrified. I don't know what to expect without you here. I don't know who I will turn to when I need help. I don't know who to annoy when I'm bored. I don't know who to look to for guidance. I don't know if I'm ready to accept that this is how it will be from now on.

Stepping away from my pity party, I'd like to commend you. I'd like to inform you of how proud of you I am. Through everything that we've done together, you've always excelled. You've not only pushed yourself to succeed in every walk of life, but you've pushed those around you to succeed as well. You are the epitome of selfless. You have all of the characteristics of a model soldier. You are about to embark on a journey that few have the fortune of experiencing. You're about to do the most admirable thing there is. To leave your home, your family, your girlfriend, and Honey to pursue a life of superior meaning - that is something to admire. I am so proud of the person you have become. You've stared obstacles in the face, conquered them, and even ended up in Sports Illustrated.

I've always been good with words, but I don't think I will ever be able to convey how much I love you. How proud of you I truly am. How much I will miss you. You have been my role model for my entire life. And though you are moving far away, you will continue to serve as my hero. You haven't left for nothing - you've left to protect the homeland of your people. You've left to join forces with your siblings in an effort to ensure that our homeland remains our eternal homeland. You've left to do something I can only dream of doing myself.

So here is to the car rides home, the late nights spent talking, the projectile vomit, the conquering of obstacles, the baseball days, the basketball brawls, the failed cooking lessons, the bathroom hangouts, and all of the other unforgettable memories we've made together in these past seventeen years.

I'll find the strength to resurface. I'll adjust to a life without you, despite my not wanting to. But I will never forget the amazing times we've spent together. I will never stop loving you to the end of the world and back.

Thank you for helping to make me the person I am. You will always be in my heart, my mind, and my prayers. Stay safe and come home soon.

I love you.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Gabriel. I'm an editor at the and I'm interested in republishing this essay. Can you email me at, please? Thanks!