Friday, February 25, 2011

Happy Birthday

My little brother is no longer little.... 

Today was my brother's birthday. He turned 20. I remember when I turned 20. It was a neat day, but nothing special happened. My roommates didn't even know it was my birthday.. It was nice! I have never been the type to want a lot of people to know about my birthday, BUT this year is different. . I will turn 22 and will be having an awesome Disco Party!

Enough about me. This post is dedicated to my little brother!
We have always been the closest. I come from a larger-type family. I have two half sisters and my biological brother. While Amanda, Stephanie and I always had our fights and arguments, Justin and I did too but not to the same extent. Maybe it is because he is a boy and I am indeed a girl! I am not sure. He shares a lot of my characteristics.

Hair color and type
Music taste (OK, somewhat!)
Left handedness
We share cars
We have the same bathroom
We have lived in Tuscaloosa together for two years now
We both love football
We both like baseball
We share first initials
The list can go on and on, but you get the picture.

I remember like it was yesterday after fighting with my brother our mom would make us make up. She would give us the dull 'ol speech about how one day you won't have a brother or sister there to fight with so you better appreciate each other while you have them there. I don't know why, but every time I would hear her say this, it would strike a sentimental string and I would catch myself choking back tears. I can look back now and say that I knew back then the bond between us was far stronger than most.

When we were teenagers we spent time with the same friends. When I turned 16 he would "tag" along with my friends and me but it never phased me. Only every blue moon would I get in a testing mood and want him to stay home. We created many memories riding those country roads at night. All the water balloons, 'question marks' and trips to Wal*Mart and Sonic. Even my friends would say that Justin and I got along really well and that we never really fought. I took that as a compliment and remembered thinking, "Isn't that how it is supposed to be?" I know as you get older you get closer to your siblings and that has proven true so far. Actually, he has been my saving grace.

I remember going to his pre-school graduation and I remember going to his high school graduation. I will never forget those blue and pink shirts walking across the stage, "Mary's Little Lambs" is what they were called. We used to have a pool that was big and silver, kind of like a big cereal bowl. We swam in there before his preschool graduation. I came home from Tuscaloosa to watch my baby brother graduate high school two years ago and cried like a baby. I couldn't compose myself to save my life and thinking back on it right now it is hard to keep my composure without letting a tear slide down.

Few and far between all that jazz I wrote up there was an awesome childhood with him. We used to have a friend, Tyler, who we visited every-single day in the summer when we were in grade school. He lived right up the road from us and we would wake up at dawn and walk to his house then continue on our journey of exploring the world around us until dusk. It was an amazing life! He grew up playing baseball from the time he was 4-years-old until he turned 15-years-old. I would never miss a game or practice. I was stuck to my mom like glue when he had games and practices. I alway enjoyed going and watching him play baseball. I believe, as a matter of fact I know, that is where my love for baseball comes into the picture. His friends were always my friends and vice versa.... even to this day I can still say that! Those were all the good times, life definitely has its good and bad times. All the bad times with Justin came as no shock since he has asthma. Every five years or so he would have a really bad asthma attack. The most recent coming his first year here in Tuscaloosa with me and Hallie (his girlfriend of four years). That was one of the scariest nights of my life. When he was around eight or ten years old he had a terrible asthma attack and it got extremely bad. His poor lung collapsed and they didn't know if they could help him. The doctors were almost ready to send him to another hospital, but thank the Lord they didn't have to. Prayers work and so does God. He saved my brother that year. His lung got better with time and years went by before he had another one. I was a freshman in high school and I was leaving for the state Beta convention and my brother was in the hospital with his asthma again. I remember going to skit practice and feeling like a horrid sister for not being in the hospital with my brother. (I have never been the type to stay in a hospital, but when it comes to him I would stay every night all night just to make sure he is OK). My mom and dad have been in the hospital and for some reason I know that they are strong enough to pull through, but with Justin I feel like he is still my baby brother and I have to protect him in ways.... (even though it is the other way around most of the time). He can beat me at most anything we compete at. Anyways, I remember packing my suitcase for a week-long trip (the longest trip I had ever been on by myself at the time) and my mom was in the hospital with my brother. I was sitting on my couch trying to pack my suitcase without any luck. I remember feeling frazzled, scared, nervous and sad because I was leaving and he was in the hospital. It just didn't feel right. As for the most recent, it was about a year and a half ago and we were three hours away from home and my poor momma didn't have a way down here. I know she felt helpless and it was killing her. All she had to go by was what Hallie and me was telling her. I remember we were eating lunch at Lakeside Dining Hall and Hallie had decided to stay home that weekend so she was here with us (thank goodness!). She was OUR saving grace! I remember looking at him and noticing he was pale and sick looking. I knew something was wrong. Justin has always been the type to hide things like that, but his face gives it away every time. He kept telling us he was fine and that it was just phlegm, but we knew better. It was about nine o'clock at night and we finally resorted to going to Wal*Mart to get him some medicine. You name the medicine and we got it that night including a humidifier. When we got home his poor face was so pale and he was standing over our dishwasher trying to get air to breathe. I knew it was going downhill real fast then. He went in his room to stand over the humidifier and he told Hallie "Just don't breathe." It was as if he was trying to get her to stop breathing so he could try to get all the oxygen from the air. I didn't want to leave his side, but he insisted that he was fine. I gave him and Hallie their space and went to my room. I laid in my room and worried about what would happen next. The next thing I know Hallie tapped on my door and said "Jennifer we need to go to the emergency room." I couldn't get off my bed fast enough. I grabbed my keys and we were out the door. I was driving as fast as I could get my little Camry to go. I had my flashers on and then there was a train! I just v-lined my car straight into a parking lot and took another route. My little brother wasn't going to suffer any longer if I could help it. We made it to the hospital and things were looking even worse by then. Hallie went back with him and I could see him through the windows as the nurses were bustling around him. They were wasting no time. I tried to take my mind off things and kept telling myself that he would be fine. He was in the hospital now and things were going to be OK. WIthout my mom there and being in a new town by OURselves I felt scared and alone. I have always felt like I should protect him and I felt as if  I didn't protect him enough that night. Needless to say he is fine now and I worry about him even more now than I did before that. After that incident I pay special attention to him when I hear him cough and I catch myself trying to distinguish if it is a sinus-cough or an asthma cough. That night he had waited so long to go to the hospital because my mom's insurance was in the middle of being distributed and he didn't want to use it if it wasn't correct. I could have killed him!!!!!! That just proves how strong of a man he is. That leads to my next point.

Justin is strong and awesome. I always joke about not saying things to swell his head anymore than it already is, but I know he will read this one day and I could care less how big his potato head gets! I love him and he is my brother. I do everything in my power to support and protect him. Now with this being said, don't get me wrong, he probably does more protecting and comforting than I do! I am a worry wart and whether he knows it or not, some of the things he says and the way he acts helps me a lot in my situations. He is so carefree and easy going (unlike me). I think he doesn't like showing emotion or weakness, but he is a comforter to me. I know that he will always be there for me and I know I can fall back on him for support at anytime. My mom said it best last summer when she told me this. "You know Justin will do anything for you and help you in any way. He don't like to show it and he has a different way of dealing with problems, but he will always be there for you." After hearing my momma say this I felt so much better. Someone else saw this in him besides me. He likes to put on a tough front and we clash heads sometimes, but only because we love each other and share like characteristics.

My brother and I have been through a lot together and not only is he my support system and my saving grace, but my mom's also. He also serves as a great role model for our nephew. He means the world to me and I hope he knows this. Seeing him turn 20 is a blessing. He is so intelligent, caring and supportive. He has a quiet, yet stubborn and cocky attitude but it is all with good intentions. I can't wait to see him celebrate many more birthdays in the future and may each one be as special as the day he was brought into this world!

He loves Reeses so much that I think he could actually make this a food group! Hallie and I decided to buy him this brownie, peanut butter, chocolate and Reese cup concoction this morning. We also bought him two packs of Reeses and a pack of gum. My mom mailed him a card and we woke him up to blow out the candles and devour this cake (with us)! He could barely hold his eyes open, but he sure did eat the fire out of the thing!

I can't remember the exact game this was at but Roll Tide!

Us at the Penn State vs. Bama game (Sept. 11, 2010)

Our Halloween Party 2010.

We were in the Smokey Mountains. It was a fabulous trip. It was his first time visiting Gatlinburg.

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