Sunday, August 11, 2013

To My Brother

Dear Eli,

I remember chasing you around the school field when we were little kids. I forgot exactly what you'd done, but I think you wronged my brother in some way. But look how far we've come.

I remember playing basketball in your mini basketball court. I remember our biker gang. I remember the day you got your license; we all felt like the world was at our fingertips. I remember the end of tenth grade when we all marveled at the fact that we had just one year left together. I remember crying in a passionate embrace at Camp Chi. I remember graduation night, a night where sorrow turned to euphoria. I remember consoling myself, calming my worries by noting that we still had the summer left to spend together.

And I'll always remember the night I had to say goodbye.

I've said goodbye to people before. I've cried when walking away. But I've never felt quite like this. You see, this isn't just the end of our time together - it's the end of a generation. It's the end of me walking into your house to mess with you. It's the end of us changing clothes. It's the end of an era.

Man, we've done some unspeakable things. I mean, things so ridiculous and wrong that it makes me cringe to think about them. No matter what we've done together these past few years, we've always managed to have a great time. When we would all get together to hang out, I was fully confident that I would spend my night laughing my guts out. High school is sort of confusing. Whenever I think about leaving, I'm somewhat conflicted. As much as I want to move on with my life, I don't know if I'm ready to leave behind all of the amazing memories. When I recount all of the unforgettable nights I've had in high school thus far, the same people are there. You, me, Asher, Seth, and Bryan. The crew. The gang. The boys. But now we're all moving on, we're going our separate ways. And while I'm so happy for you, for all of y'all, I can't help but wish that it didn't have to be this way. I've never felt as strong of a bond as I feel with all of you guys.

I keep thinking about how strange it will be to see your car in the street without you as the driver. I can't really wrap my head around the fact that when I break into your house through your window, you won't be there anymore. No more making fun of your inexplicably small ears. No more going out for "ice cream." No more unforgettable nights.

The one bright spot I'm able to see tonight is that I don't regret anything from this past year. In your final year, we got closer. We often shifted from the childish conversations and mustered up the seriousness to talk about substantive things. We did new things, stupid things, boring things, and pointless things. We took full advantage of the remaining time we had left. And for that, I am infinitely grateful.

It's funny looking back at that day I chased you around the field. Because if someone wronged you now, I would chase them around a school field. Because you see, you've become my brother.

You've become my family.

People often tell me how far I've come despite having a difficult childhood. I've never really known how to respond. But I've always known what to think. I think about you. I think about your family. You've had it far worse than I have. And somehow you've overcome the seemingly endless obstacles in your life. Not only have you conquered everything that's been thrown at you, but you've grown into a wonderful young man. So when people tell me how amazing my overcoming the obstacles has been, I always feel they should be telling you just that. You've become a role model - somebody I consistently strive to emulate. You've become a loyal, caring, and considerate young man. I've watched you set an amazing (though not perfect) example for Simcha and Rena. And I'm always touched by how proud your mother is of you. What I've overcome pales in comparison to what you've conquered. I am merely someone who has made the best out of a bad situation. You are a true role model.

When I say that I'd do anything for you, that's not an empty statement. I really, really would. I know that few people will come along in life and show you what loyalty really means. I know that you, all of y'all, are blessings.

So saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I tried to fight back the tears, but some things are stronger than human will. As I drove away, I looked at your car - your old, beat up, crappy car. I thought about all of the amazing nights that have started in that car. I realized that, though you're leaving and an era is coming to a close, the memories we've made together will never be forgotten.

I know you're headed places. I can already see the success that you are bound to attain. Just know that throughout the next stage of your life, I will be there for you just as you've always been there for me. And trust me, you're not getting rid of me.

You will be the best man at my wedding. You will come to my first son's Bris. You will remain my brother for the rest of my life.

As I prepare to go to sleep, I'm comforted by the fact that our goodbye was perfect. The last words I'll utter to you face to face in quite some time could not have been more fitting.

"I love you."

I really do. You are my brother now and forever.

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