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Thirty Years of Evolution

My youngest brother turned thirty today. 

It's no secret that we've been through a lot. Many of the best and worst times of our lives have forced us to change and grow up sooner than many other people around us. 

For much of my life, I looked at Nick as a baby himself. Now, not in the immature, whiny, needy way, but more so, in the I am your older sister and trying my best to protect you from the world way.

Losing our dad and then our brother changed who we were individually and also changed our relationship and the dynamic we had with each other. The feeling of protecting him as my own grew astronomically.

I don't think this is something people talk about: The weight of losing someone parallels the weight of losing yourself and everyone deeply impacted by the loss.

As I reflect on spending thirty years watching Nick grow and evolve, many emotions and memories flood my mind—good, bad, and indifferent. I remember the countless moves, the laughs, the reflection of what we faced, and watching him become an uncle, a husband, and, now, a father. 

How effortless does he make these roles look? 

With all that was not constant in the chaos we've talked through, one thing always remained the same: the bond we shared. No one knows me like him. No one understands what we've lived through like him. No one shares the one thing we had control of: our love for each other as siblings and best friends. 

When I found out he and his wife were expecting a baby due in December, all I could think about was the immense joy the baby would bring to his world. Selfishly, I wanted his child to be a boy born in the same month as our brother Manny, who passed just six years before. I wanted the invisible string that kept us together to continue whether Manny was alive or not. If he had a boy in December, it could partially fill an endless void.

Just a few months ago, on December 21, 2023, he had a daughter. A beautiful, Heaven-sent baby girl named Layla. What I had wished for months before was instantly erased.

I realize now that the invisible string continues with Layla. I see now that our angels knew exactly what they were doing. Manny chose her– after all, her birthday only included the numbers 12, 21 (twelve backward), and 23. If you know Manny, then you know what that means. 

Throughout my anticipation for Nick to become a dad to a son, destiny had already woven his tale. Nick emerged not as a father to a son but as a devoted "girl dad." He embodies all the cherished qualities that my dad imparted to me. Witnessing his unconditional love for his daughter stirs deep emotions within me, transporting me back to the sweetest moments of my childhood. It's as if I'm granted a personal glimpse into the past, observing Nick's heartfelt affection for his daughter, which mirrors the profound love and care my dad showed me.

As we move forward into this new chapter, I'm reminded that love knows no bounds, and the ties that bind us are stronger than any loss we've endured. 

In Layla, I see the continuation of our family's story, a reminder that our angels are watching over us, guiding us through life's twists and turns. And in Nick, I see the embodiment of all that is good and true, a beacon of hope and love that he can take forward into his next decade of life. 

I am grateful for every single year. 

Here's to wishing you more life. I love you, Nick. Happy Birthday to you! 


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