One More Graduation Letter to a Very Important Graduate

Dear Andrew,

Sometimes I laugh when I think about the totally different ways we have experienced the same family.

You see, I am the front end of the family. I was there for each new baby that was born. We were a house dominated by three little girls. For years. Til that day in 7th grade when I used the pay phone at lunch and between classes and Dad would update me on his brick cell phone how Mom was doing. She was bringing my first brother into the world that day.

You are the tail end of the family. Your life has instead been punctuated by each of your sisters leaving the nest until you were the only one left. Twenty years ago I never would've been able to wrap my head around the idea of Mom, Dad and a teenage boy at home. I didn't even know what that would look like. I was scared of teenage boys.

The time when we lived in the same house together might be even more of a distant memory for you than it is for me. But I wanted to tell you that that makes me no less a proud sister, especially now that your high school graduation has arrived.

I know that we joke a lot that from the moment we got our hands on you in the hospital, you were smothered and mothered by your sisters. And now I stand back and look at who you've become in spite of us. I'm really just part-joking about that. I hope you've also felt us cheering you on.

One of the things I admire most is the way you get a project in your head. From the moment it's born you work furiously until it's sitting concretely in front of you.

Like robots that can sort marbles by color. And potatoes that conduct electricity. And music boxes that play music you punched out yourself.

And PVC instruments. (really, everybody, check this out)

Your appreciation of music far surpasses anything I have ever experienced, and I like to think of myself as musically inclined. I play by the books. But you experiment and create and compose.

I am intrigued by the way your brain works differently from mine.

I love how you take things by the reins and you're not finished til you've put your own creative spin on them. And the rest of us are left stunned by the WOW factor.

I just know that junior high and high school can be rough. And I am so impressed with the ways you have engaged yourself while you're there.

You're like the stuff Pixar is made of.

And now it feels like I've set the stage for advice. I just want to tell you is the same thing I told my former fifth graders last week.

And that is, don't be afraid to struggle.

You are so good at problem-solving and working your way through issues until you get what you're after. You are well-equipped, brother.

But life has a really good way of throwing things at us that are meant to develop new muscles in our character. And it is these experiences and situations that keep us truly living and thriving. But they are often not comfortable. I am still learning this, because I don't like being uncomfortable. When those moments come, it is okay if you don't know what you're going to do next. In coming months, you may find yourself in unfamiliar places and circumstances wondering if you've got what it takes after all. But know you do. You've got the know how we've already talked about. You've got a family that loves you forever. And you've lived your life close to God who is always watching and ready to sustain and strengthen you.

You are WAY cool, little brother.

I love you.


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