Love, support, and eternal gratitude: An open letter to the sibling that changed my life.

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My dear, dear brother,

I started writing this letter almost 21 years ago; well, as soon as I figured out I did not in fact want to give you away at the hospital. You are a man now, and one of the the very best this world has ever seen. You are intelligent. You are a fierce protector; and you have a gentle kindness about you that the world needs more of. I am not the least bit surprised that you are pursuing a profession that requires you to be kind, nurturing, and compassionate; you have been those pillars for me all of your life.

There is so much I have to tell you, but let me start with this: you saved me, and you did it with your patience and your love. You know more than most the things I battle and struggle with daily. I deeply resent having to depend on others. I have an allergy to asking for help; and as you call it, I can be “prickly” at times. I struggle to let people in because I am so, so scared that they will eventually abandon me. Most of that is still true today, but you seemed to be person that was created to address, love, and challenge all of those coping mechanisms.

I kept you at a distance when we were growing up. I didn’t know how to interact with you, but mostly I struggled to accept the love you gave me without blinking an eye. You seemed to believe I was this cool, interesting individual that you wanted to hang around; that was so confusing (and frustrating) to me because you saw in me what I didn’t yet see in myself. My mobility aids did not scare you away. My struggles where just a puzzle that you were determined to figure out, and my medical procedures, surgeries, and tests both intrigued and mystified you. Instead of running away, you leaned into them with your whole heart.

You have every reason to resent me: sometimes my needs came before yours (more than was ever fair). Milestones, like your thirteenth birthday, were celebrated later because I had a medical emergency days before. I am not a perfect woman, and I know because of my limitations I cannot give you the same opportunities as others can. Yet, your love was patient and enduring. Pain, frustration, and challenge are my constant companions, but so too are you. You have walked beside me to make sure I had the support to keep me up. You walked ahead of me to protect me from threats that may approach me, and you have walked behind me to protect and guard my back.

Your enduring patience and love helped strengthen me, it helped heal me, and it keeps me going when I feel incredibly defeated. Remember when I said I did not like depending on anyone? Well, the truth is I depend on you, and I need you. You are my strength. You are my motivation. You are the person that I fight to be better for, healthier for, and the person whose words give me the strength to keep going.

My brother. My best friend. My partner in this rocky, complicated, and sometimes painful world. I thank you for loving me through the pain. I thank you for being patient when I wasn’t always. Thank you for being a constant in this ever-changing world. I love you. I love you so, so much.