“Honestly, I am really glad you were born because you take the time to call me and see how I am doing. Thank you.”
Tears began to stream down my face. Those few words were some of the most sincere, heartwarming words that I had ever read from one of my younger brothers. On most occasions, I would expect a card from my family with sweet notes from my parents paired with forced, short words of affirmation from my siblings but this was different.
As I read and reread his words, I tried to recall recent conversations we had.
My brother is 10 years younger than I am and he lives close to 400 miles away. Sometimes it’s hard for me to relate to him, and usually when I call our conversation goes something like:
Me: “Hey how are you? How is school? How is track?”
My brother: “Good. Good. Fine. Do you want to talk to dad?”
His responses are almost annoyingly short and to the point and then he passes the phone on to someone else…
However, reading his note gave me new insight.. I began to realize just how much my presence matters to others. I may not always want to call home or friends because I know there isn’t much to say, but simply reaching out goes a long way. And in this instance, it showed my brother that I care about him and want to be a part of his life.
Ever since I received that note, I have taken his words to heart and tried to apply them to every area of my life. As a high school teacher, sometimes I have a hard time accepting my student’s ignorance, their stupid questions and comments, and I have an especially difficult time loving them when they are rude and snarky. But I am constantly reminding myself that they are just kids and they need to know that they are loved and cared for. A wise man once said,
“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”
The witness of our lives truly affects other people. As I have gotten older, I have grown to love and sometimes fear the responsibility that I have toward another person. It scared me to know I have a responsibility toward my family, friends, and those whom I work with.
I will always remember the words that my brother wrote to me on my birthday. And as he grows older and we grow closer, I will continue to call him to see how he is doing. We may not always have a lot to talk about, but his presence in my life matters more than he will ever know.
Because now, I want others to know by my actions that their presence matters, that they are loved. We may not always see the fruit of our labors, but how we treat other people is a reflection of who we are.