Growing up, I always wanted a brother. You can probably chalk that up to the whole living with two sisters I didn't exactly like thing. Either way, having a brother was something I often dreamed about, and honestly wondered a few times if my parents had had the fourth kid my mom wanted but my dad said no to I would've gotten one. (God only knows what life would have been like if I'd had a third sister!)
I did see Matt as my brother at first...then I thought I fell in love with him and spent about six years convinced I was in love with him...then I realized that that was nuts and he was perfect as my big brother because, let's face it, we'd kill each other if we had ever tried to be anything else. Thirteen years later, and we both know we're stuck together for good.
Then came Paddy. The guy who started out as my "host brother" turned into my real brother within days. We only spent ten days together, but four years later, we were reunited, and if we hadn't known it before, that weekend together solidified the fact that we were family. We still are.
And as if that wasn't enough, five years later, I joined a class of 15 strange boys to run a Twitter account. I was terrified of them for weeks, unable to wrap my head around the fact that they weren't like the others, that they were good and genuine and loved me, and before long, I realized that those guys had become my family, too. Throughout that semester, I couldn't even try to pretend that they weren't brothers to me. They strengthened my faith and carried me through an incredibly rough semester. And over the two years since then, two of those stranger boys became two of my best friends.
The same week I joined that class and met those brothers, I went to a soccer game with some friends, accidentally ran into a player who surprisingly remembered me and convinced me to come back, and, before long, I unexpectedly fell into a whole new family. The boys I never thought would want to spend time with me, let alone love me, and subsequently spent a long time trying to understand why they did, let me into their family when they really didn't have to. I could have been just another fan to them, and that would've been normal, but instead, the more games I went to, the more boys I met, the more I became integrated into the group. I learned I'd been adopted as their sister when I didn't expect that at all, and a year later, I learned they knew I was their sister long before they even told me. These are the boys who took time out of their hectic schedules to come be my bodyguards just so I would feel safe, even when it turned out to be pointless. Into the second soccer season since I graduated, and they still call me their #1, and I still have the ball sitting on my desk to remind me every single day of the rowdy boys who took me in and made me feel special and important just by the way they loved me.
I wanted one brother. Today, I have about 30. Funny how things work out, isn't it?
It's that last set that I'm particularly thankful for lately. My nerves over the biopsy coming next week seem to only be getting stronger the closer I get to the procedure date. And those nerves have taken the loneliness I was already feeling and multiplied it. Not only am I really hating being so far away from Campbell because of what is going on with my friend, I would give anything to get back to my soccer boys and get their hugs and be surrounded by their infectious personalities that carried me through so much during my senior year.
But despite this ache of longing, I am so, so grateful and aware of the fact that it is an incredible blessing to have them. Because despite the great distance that lies between us, I have gotten so many messages of love from them because of what is going on that I know that they are with me every step of the way. They won't let me forget it. In this aspect, it's as if nothing has changed. The bond that we have, the family that we built, is stronger than a move. I don't have to tell them that I've got their back and will always support them, because they already know it. And I have always known and felt those boys cheering me on through this whole grad school experience, but it's been taken to a whole new level with this current situation when I see the way they so openly and freely let me know how much they love me. It's often said that guys, especially ones this age, aren't open about their feelings and emotions, probably because it's seen as not masculine, but it's like these boys will do whatever they have to to not let me forget for a second that I am so, so very loved by them. I have told them time and time again that they don't understand the extent of what they did for me in my senior year or how they changed me for the better, and I feel like I'm experiencing that all over again.
Some of my boys will be graduating in December, which is heartbreaking because I didn't realize or learn it until recently and until then had thought I'd get a chance to see them one last time when I visit in January, but I know we'll see each other again one day. And the boys that will still be there? Well, let's just say I've warned them all to be expecting massive tackles because I absolutely cannot wait to get to hug them again. And the best part is that they've all said they can't wait for it. :)
It's really comforting to know you have people that not only would you do absolutely anything for, but who would do absolutely anything for you, as well. We've got each other's backs for life, and I wouldn't have it any other way, because frankly, I can't imagine not having them now.
That team of rowdy soccer boys mean the world to me. I still feel so totally honored to be their sister.
They're my boys, it's pretty simple, and I think I love them even more now than I did then. And I think that is really, really freaking cool.