A few weeks ago, I got an email from my cousin Matt’s girlfriend, asking folks to write a little something up about/for Matt, to help celebrate his 40th birthday. She wanted to put together a surprise book for him, filled with personal sentiments from his friends and family.
When I first read her email ask, my first reactionary thought was: Gosh, I’d love to do this – especially since I can’t be there to help celebrate his birthday (he lives in Philly) – but I’ve got so many other projects and events and articles I’m working on. The dust of my running to-do list quickly settled, however, and this more heart-centered response soon followed: I love my cousin. This is important. This is more important than most of the other stuff I’m doing. How wonderful that she’s pulling this together. Of course I’ll write something!
Here’s what I wrote and sent her to include in the book:
To my dear cousin Matt, on his 40th birthday:
It’s hard – neigh impossible – for me to think of my childhood and not have fond memories of you spring to life on the same breath that I use to conjure up past recollections. And for this I am so very grateful.
I am grateful that it’s impossible for me to separate my days of youth from your presence and influence and brotherly love. Like pocket treasures found in the folds of a patchwork quilt, I continue to discover now in my adulthood all the things, people, places, and experiences I didn’t know enough to be grateful for when I was younger – and I count you as one of my dearly beloved people in this regard.
How happy I am that you were born! How happy I am that I had the privilege of growing up beside you; to have you as the brother I never had; to have spent summers romping around together on streets paved with houses and friends and lemonade; to have shared sleepovers at Gram & Gramps’ house, sneaking candies from their nightstands and falling asleep in their cushioned recliners; to forever cherish the very best picture that will ever exist in all the world of you and I in tap shoes dressed as Mickey & Minnie Mouse for a dance recital I have little memory of (see pic below). The list delightfully goes on and on and on, like the long pull of sunset on clouds over the Indian River at Rehoboth Beach, amid fragrant days of the Julys & Augusts we spent there camping.
While we don’t keep in touch very much over the many miles that separate us, I know you are there. I know we are forever and always in this big world together as cousins, as brother & sister, as friends. And for this I am eternally thankful and filled with great love and joy.
With a hug & a smile & wishes that I could be there to help celebrate your birthday,