In my life

Sitting here, writing Chris’ arrival date in my planner, I am thinking about my role in life. I am the eldest of three. So much of my identity growing up was being the first- the eldest- the trailblazer. So much of my life through junior high and high school was navigating the hard teachers so I could recommend different ones. Finding the best spots in the cafeteria, the best time to leave home to ensure parking close to the building, and the best snacks to grab in the lunch line.  I was the first to go to college, the first to buy my own car, the first to live on my own…..all things that make sense, timewise. I was the tallest, the bravest, and the strongest (for a little while, anyway). It’s who I was. Big sis. Leader. Protector. Guide.

My role has changed a bit since then.

Jack (my second in command) is finishing up his last year in college to be an engineer. He secured a second-year internship with a prestigious company that only took 20 out of 2,000 applicants. He leads a small group at his campus church, volunteers in after-school programs for local kids, and always finds time to call me and catch up. He goes to the gym every day, no days off. He’s sincere, honest, and kind. He is pulling straight A’s and B’s in his tough engineering courses without complaining at all. He takes challenges in stride. He pushes through hardship. He soldiers on. He is the steadiest, sturdiest person I know, and I’m so grateful that he’s the kind of man that checks on me often, and with genuine interest. His best quality, though, is his sense of humor. Jack lights up a room when he grins, and his laugh is hearty and loud. It fills your bones when you hear it, and you can’t help but join in. He is humble about his intelligence, always willing to share a smile or a conversation, and would help anyone with anything. His heart never ceases to impress me.

Chris, my doppelganger (although not in appearance), has blown Jack and I out of the water by comparison. At 19, he left home to live in Japan for a year. He has been there since August. Chris has loved everything about Japanese culture since the time he could read, talk, and draw. He spent hours every summer poring through the manga, researching authentic Japanese recipes, and watching as much anime as he could get his hands on. As he entered high school, he started to teach himself the language. He found an app that partnered him with a native Japanese speaker who wanted to learn English. They talked frequently- and Chris studied diligently on nights, weekends, holidays…you name it. He took a Japanese class at his school here, and his professor said he is the most proficient language learner they had ever had. He studied for his entrance exam to the Japanese University and out of 8 levels of classes, he tested into the 4th, after being mainly self-taught. He was just moved up to the 8th level after he passed his midterm with flying colors and asked to give the welcoming speech to the incoming freshman at his Japanese university. He is creative, kind, artistic, hilarious, brilliant and driven. I am so proud of him every single day. He is doing what he loves without fear, without question. He set goals and worked towards them. He worked relentlessly to get where he is today, and it has all started to pay off. He comes home in two months. I can’t wait to give my squish a squeeze.

I often find myself in awe of the two little people I helped guide through their younger years. They are so much stronger, braver, smarter, and kinder than I could have ever hoped. Everything I wanted for them, they are achieving. I find myself no longer being the guide in this life we share. I am now privileged to share space with them as equals. As thirds of the same whole. I get to be a buddy. A confidante. I get to learn from them just as much as they are learning from me. My brothers inspire me, push me, make me laugh, and fill all the cracks of my heart with their love, support, and constant jokes. I am so beyond blessed to be surrounded by two vastly different, but equally incredible men.

Before my keyboard is completely dissolved in tears…Music is something that has always united the three of us. I pay for Spotify premium, and let them use my account. They both have their own playlists “Jack’s Trash” and “Don’t Delete it Steph” (cute, thanks Chris), so in honor of them, I’m sharing a few songs that the three of us love or have a connection to. Feel free to listen.

  1. Cracklin Rosie – Neil Diamond (I’ll never forget singing this acapella in the kitchen with them the last weekend Chris was home this summer)
  2. Australia- The Shins (My favorite band of all time is what they were forced to listen to on a loop in my old Chevy on our way to high school. This song made it on to both of their playlists, so they must have liked it at least a little 🙂 )
  3. Roundabout- Yes ( Jack’s contribution to the trio. He’s a sucker for a nasty bass line, and this song provides)
  4. Spirit of Radio- Rush (This is half joke/ half serious. We grew up listening to dad blast his collection of rush music, and this song always makes us laugh. Plus, it’s always good to ‘begin the day with a friendly voice…’)
  5. In My Life– The Beatles (A sweet reminder of love. Plus, the Beatles.)

Happy tears.