A note for my brother

Michael and Lia some time in the late 1980s or early 1990s
Michael and Lia some time in the late 1980s or early 1990s

This Friday, a very special person celebrates his 30th birthday — my brother, Michael.

I recently came across this thank you note that I sent Michael at the end of my senior year of high school, and I thought I might share it with you all here.

May 17, 2005

Dear Michael,

I’d usually start a letter like this with a “Wow, I can’t believe that high school is almost over!” type of line, but that’s not really true. I can believe it. Though these four years have gone by quickly, they have been four wholesome years that I have squeezed every drop out of.

I have felt confident and knowledgeable, and I attribute much of that to you.

In the months preceding the beginning of my high school career, you gave me the “trailer” to the proverbial movie that high school really is. In the coming attractions, you showed me classes, teachers, music, and other activities I would soon enjoy—I couldn’t wait to buy my “tickets.”

Continue the rest of the metaphor in your head. When I entered high school, you graciously took me under your wing. You helped me with homework almost every night, offered me your friends as chauffeurs, and (occasionally) waved to me in the hallways. One of your best contributions to my high school experience was the “older sibling factor”: your teachers loved you, so, naturally, they would love me too. Thank you for all of that.

Fast-forward a few years. When the time came for me to apply to college, I was pretty set on my list. A small Methodist school in Evanston, IL, would not have made the cut if I had my way. You persisted, though, and almost forced me to apply to Northwestern. You told me that though I may not want to go there at the time, I might want to by April. I didn’t believe you, but I applied anyway. And I’m so glad I did.

Thank you for all the help you’ve given me so far in choosing classes and dorms, setting up e-mail accounts, etc.; I don’t know what I’d do without you.

It seems as though the more time we spend apart (and, subsequently, the less time we spend arguing over computers and cars), the closer we have become. I can’t wait to go to school with you again next year—and, even if we don’t see each other often, it’s just good to know that you’re there. (I bet we’ll end up talking more online than in person, though.)

I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate all that you do. Good luck finishing the end of the year, and thanks for everything.


Sure enough, Michael, eight years after this letter, you’re still helping me with my phone, my computer, my car, my apartment, and anything else I need — it would be tough to find anyone out there as smart or talented as you in so many different ways. I think you know I’m always there for you too — and it’s nice that you’re only a few blocks away!  I hope you have a wonderful 30th birthday and I look forward to celebrating with you.


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