February 6, 2015 was my parent's 33rd wedding anniversary, and this is the letter I wrote to them...
Dear Mom & Dad on your 33rd wedding anniversary,
We’ve always been an outwardly loving family. The modern day group texts with updates of our day, funny random comments, lots of good nights, lots of good mornings, lots of xoxo’s, lots of I love you’s. Lots of love, really.
The phone calls, the get togethers, the short stretch of miles between us (I’ve always made sure of the “short” part), the unspeakable bond between us four.
I’ve always known I was lucky. Not only to grow up in a family where the two parents were still together and happily in love but also to have pretty much anything I wanted at my fingertips. A nice place to live, plenty of food, cars paid for, college paid for, a fostering environment, the list goes on and on. The necessities were more than covered, and I had so much more than that too. So much more.
I have always appreciated it. I have. It was never lost on me. It was just never fully realized either when I was younger.
Time and winding your way through your youth has a way of uncovering these truths for us. As I get older, I realize the importance more bit by bit, and I’ve been meaning to write this letter for a while now.
We all go about our lives and we have good times together and everything is great, but I don’t want you to just hear about how much I love you in broad strokes. I want you to REALLY know. And, I’m sure you already get it, you do, but just in case, here are some examples:
When I call mom and often get put on “speaker” so dad can hear because it’s more of an event than a simple conversation – even if it’s the third time I’ve called that week. And, the “thanks for calling” at the end like it’s a favor to you two even when it’s something I genuinely enjoy and want to do.
When I went through a particularly difficult break up and mom was there the next day, no questions asked, even if she already had other plans.
When no guy I ever date is good enough because dad is too damn spectacular – at EVERYTHING.
When we watch home videos of Ben and me as children and you two are flirting with each other in them, deliriously happy, despite your sleep-deprived faces.
When mom never complains about having diabetes – 28 years and counting.
When dad is stressed but you would never know it because he rarely shows it, rarely complains and rarely acts less than 100% present.
When I have a bunch of sh*t to hang on the walls and dad is genuinely happy to help me. Like, smiling widely wielding a hammer.
When I’ve just had a quiet morning or maybe a particularly overly introspective day, and when I see you two, it’s all chatter and happy and hustle bustle. It kind of has a way of setting things back to neutral for me.
When dad would never yell at us unless he was REALLY mad. When mom would always yell at us. You guys had the balance down right.
When there is some type of family event and mom has everything planned including itinerary/food and makes it look easy and never seems “put out”.
When you two talk to me about things concerning Ben because you want my opinion, and I feel validated in giving it since I’ve known my brother during his whole span of time on this earth.
When I can come to you with anything and never feel judged.
When the best thing for each of you, truly, is seeing Ben and me happy. Sometimes our happiness might be derived from us having really active social lives and not having as much time to talk to you or see you. That does not bother you though because this is just one example of how your love for us is unconditional.
When I can call at 3am, if needed, and mom would answer – because she’s never truly had a goodnight’s sleep in over 32 years.
When I’m sad about something and maybe I’ve talked to other friends about that something, but when I hear mom’s voice on the other end of the line, it instantly makes me break down and cry.
When dad had a pretty terrible upbringing, but despite all odds and probably in spite of all odds, still became the best father either of us could have ever dreamed of.
When Ben or I tell mom we want to buy a table, or something along those lines, and instantly, we have five to six links of table options waiting for us in our email.
When you gave me Ben when I was four because even though we are so different in so many ways that is mostly why I love him.
When we just have fun together and are the “loud family”.
There are so many more examples, but I digress.
Your love, support, selflessness and patience is unwavering, year after year. It may shift and change shape with the passing of time, but it’s always there, strongly rooted. And that is just something, in and of itself – to know you’ll always be there, no matter what. It’s a grounding and peace provoking feeling. I know you’d tell me that’s what family is all about and that’s what family is for, but it’s not. It’s the best gift anyone can be given.
I’m one of the truly lucky ones.
I don’t even know where I’d be or who I’d be without you. I like to think I’d still be “me”, but the truth is, so much of me, is you.
Don’t get me wrong; I know it’s been hard. I know I was a terrible baby, and I know Ben was no cup of tea as he got older. I know you both continue to work super hard in different ways, but damn if you don’t make it look easy, worthwhile and graceful.
I already have so many special memories, and I can’t wait to make more. I love seeing how our relationship evolves as we all grow older and continue on this journey together.
I know they say no one can prepare you for how fiercely and powerfully you’ll love your children. But no one prepares you for the first people who will steal your heart either. Out of the seven billion people on this earth, I’d choose you two every time.
We are four, but we are one.
For all the ways you’ve “showed up”, in every sense of the word, I’m so very thankful. Everything you’ve done for me is everything to me.
You’re the greatest loves of my life.