I am blessed with the gift of built-in best friends. Many moons ago, my fourth little friend was brought home from the hospital. That gave me two younger sisters and two younger brothers by the time I was eight years old.
When Alex began to talk, he called me teacher. That is the family folk-lore. I am not surprised, because I played school with all of my siblings and stuffed animals. I probably roped him in as a nursery student before he could talk. By the time he was four or five, I had him well-trained, as seen in these photos from a school picture day photo shoot I did with my class one summer.
I did individual photos, hands properly crossed over a book, most likely a Bible for that extra spiritual touch.
I took a class picture, as well.
Clearly I was inspired by the real school picture of this little preschooler.
Fast forward a few decades and lots of stories to this summer when Alex brought his entire family from Bolivia to the States. We were on the same continent for three months, though not all of that time was spent in the same location.
It was so fun to catch up and connect. It felt like always. Just really good. Like this good.
There is so much love on our faces. So much contentment in this captured moment. Shalom.
Alex was ten when I left for college. One of my favorite letters from that season reads
Dear Julie, I love you. I miss you. We are still brother and sister. Love, Alex
We are still brother and sister.
This summer we took a trip with our mom and teenage girls to visit family in Ohio and Michigan. It was such a sweet time of laughter and conversation. And after this goodbye picture was snapped, I climbed into my car and sobbed down the driveway as I drove from Ohio back home to Virginia.
Happy Birthday, Alex! I love and miss you so much! I am thankful for your life. I am thankful that we are brother and sister.