To my baby brother on his 21st

I was having lunch with my three-year-old goddaughter yesterday. At a certain point in the "conversation" (yes, it's possible with a three-year-old and very interesting), we started talking about her little brother. "He's my baby," she said in her sweet little voice. And my mind went immediately to my own baby brother. "My baby brother will be twenty-one tomorrow," I told her, and she laughed. "He's not a baby!"

No, he isn't. In fact, he has become quite a man in the past few years. So, if you will, allow me this post to celebrate the full twenty-one years that I have had the real honor of being this man's sister. To those of you who know him, none of this will surprise you. If you don't know him, I wish you did - let me give you a glimpse.

Hunter was hands-down the cutest baby and child ever to grace this planet. And he is also a good-looking man. He had huge blue eyes - still does - and chubby little cheeks. Chubby everything, really. He was kind of huge! He's very fit and strong these days. He spoke his own language - an open mouth meant either ice or (in my case) "I'm going to bite you;" two tongue-clicks meant "Courtney" who lived across the street; things were yeah-yoe (yellow), crayons were (and I think still are) "Crowns" and I was "Doe." He came into my world, and forced me to share center-stage, and I hated that, but never, ever, not even when I was trying to steal the stage back, did I not adore that child. He was and is "my baby." Can't you tell?

Some memories of those early days:

  • He would sometimes call for me when he woke up in the morning, and, unable to lift him out of his crib (I was only three years older than him), I would crawl in with him, and we would stay there until Mom came to get us up.
  • He sucked his thumb and like to touch soft things when he did, and sometimes in the car I would lean my head against his carseat and he would pet my hair as he drifted off to sleep.
  • When he was about 18 months old, he had this blue Fisher Price tugboat that he loved. I would push him all around the carpeted upstairs, and one day, pushed him down the stairs! I still contend that he had fun. And he did pick his feet up, which (coupled with the grace of God) is probably the only reason he wasn't injured in that little escapade.
  • One day, he must have been about four, he was wearing a Ninja turtle helmet in the car and he fell asleep with his head down on the front of the booster. You couldn't see his face, just the helmet, and it looked like Michaelangelo or Rafael (one of 'em) was sleeping in our backseat. A David Wilcox song was playing and all of a sudden, Ninja Hunter, raised his head, singing (loudly!) "She's just dancin', okay..." He also liked to sing along with Amy Grant - El Shaddai was a real favorite.
  • Yall, he was the cutest child!

Growing up, he was my buddy. Even though we fought, and I was bossy, and he sometimes bit me (only until he was about two), we really got along pretty well. We were pals. I once "moved out" of our house and onto our driveway because I was mad about something, and about twenty minutes later, out came Hunter with his backpack and a stuffed animal. He wanted to move into my tent (a beach towel over an umbrella) with me. We had the best afternoon.

He is funny, yall! Like, really funny! But you have to be quiet and really listen to catch it. And he is kind and sweet and honest, and he really loves the people that he loves. He is just Hunter, and sometimes I take him for granted, but he is truly a treasure in our family.

Hunter, you amaze me. You are the best brother I could ask for. You are a great boyfriend - I have learned a lot about the man I hope to have one day by watching you. You are a good son, and a loyal friend. You have made my life a hundred times more fun. It has been a joy to grow up with you, and it has been a real joy to watch you grow up. I hope you aren't embarrassed by my ramblings. You deserve all the attention you get today. I pray for you daily. I love you more than I could ever tell you. And I can't wait to go to our ten hour handgun class together. I'll keep you awake if you'll keep me sane! Thank you for everything you bring to my life. Thank you for the honor it is to be your sister. I will always call you my baby brother, but, Baby Brother, you are a truly remarkable man.