My dearest lil’ bro,
It has been 16 years since you’ve first arrived in this world. Even though I don’t particularly remember what it was like waiting for your arrival, there is a hint of a memory of being more than simply excited to finally meet my little brother. Although this may be the first of your birthdays (if my memory serves correctly), that we spent apart, I would simply like to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY from afar. Even though it may take some time to travel all the way to you, I can promise that in my head, I shouted it very loudly.
Growing up never seems like as much of a step-like process clearly defined by barriers and significant changes from one year to another. They always end up blurring into a continuous spectrum of events and happenings that slowly change a young boy to a man, and seeing you grow up has been a pretty entertaining interactive movie, in which you, of course, is the lead.
It begins with the faintest memory coming from an old VCR tape showing you so carefully playing with a toy truck before I run across the screen, take the toy truck, and shout: ‘IT’S MYYY TRUCK!!’. Though I do hope that the rest of our childhood had been more harmonious, I am sure we’ve had our fair share of sister-brother fights and quarrels. One of which I can distinctly remember happen like this…
My parents had met at a sailing camp in Sai Kung, a coastal area of Hong Kong, and growing up, we’d help build the boats the camp required as training equipment. One day, we had finished painting the oars or some other odd job, and was given the chance to go paddle out on small surf-board like ‘transportation devices’.
We had travelled a little out into the water, and soon enough just as Nemo and Dory had stumbled across them, so did we. Jellyfish. However, instead of being smart and avoiding them, you had chosen to follow your brave little heart to poke them, not the tentacles, just the top. And once again, instead of being sensitive and smart and run away, we had instead followed them a small distance before you had gotten bored with them.
Not just brave, but also always full of energy.
I remember mum always calling you a ‘Monkey’, always climbing trees and running about, swinging from one high point to another. Although on most occasions you stuck the landing with a 10 out of 10, there was one memory in which all had gone wrong.
What I remembered most about that day was simply the pain in your cries, the duration of your sobbing, and the diagnosis we had concluded from these signs that this was not just a simple stumble or fall.
The cast that was on your arm the next few weeks had only made me slightly jealous of all the attention you were getting. A fractured elbow, why couldn’t I get one?
Just as I had taken the truck from you, I’m sure there were many other instances in which I had broken the ‘older sister code’ and projected my rage or anger in a misdirected manner. Though through the years, I can only say that our friendships and sibling-ship had only gotten stronger.
Our sibling-ship, built partially on our mutual dislike for certain academic extracurricular activities, our shared liking of sports and good food, as well as the unwritten, unchangeable law of sibling-hood.
They say that you don’t choose your family.
But you do get to choose how much time and effort you will put in to build a strong and unbreakable relationship. Looking back now, growing up with you had been a wonderful journey, one which I would not have traded for anything even if given the choice.
I am extremely grateful for all the hours we had spent together over the past week, whether it be excitedly wandering throughout England, adventuring into castles and museums, cooking delicious and seemingly complicated dinners, or even just sitting in silent working on a puzzle. I am thankful, that I had a chance to spend time with a boy in my life whom I was given the chance and privilege to mentor, to lead, and to see grow into so much more than just any other young man.
But rather a young man driven by passion. A young man dedicated to loving God. A young man devoted to helping those around him. And a young man with so much potential for greatness in the future.
For all those rocks and trees and mountains that you climb with ease, I’m certain that one day you will reach somewhere so high that I can be nothing but proud to be able to call you my little brother.
Even though nowadays, it seems that I rarely ever have to lead or mentor you, only in the rarest of moments am I asked to give advice. But in my mind, no matter how much taller than me you will grow to be, you will always be my little brother.
Here are just some photos that I have gathered from my collections to remind you of all the good times we’ve had.