11. Write a letter to your siblings.
Siblings — Brother, Sister, Friend. How do I begin to express the feelings that surround our incredible, challenging, loving, chaotic, distant yet close, complicated relationships? I guess I just begin.
I have been fortunate enough to grow up with siblings. I think it teaches us lessons to make us better humans without a specific agenda. There is a special bond between siblings, a secretive connection that you share with no one else. You care differently, communicate differently and disagree differently. That idea of knowing you have that extra “thread” keeping you together — knowing they can’t just disappear from your life.
Ryan; my big brother, my protector, my frustration, my friend. I know how much you love me, because I love you the same. Growing up together was not always perfect. A 5 and a half year gap is A LOT when you are younger. While you were trying smoking with friends, I was teaching my stuffed animals what I learned in school that day on my bedroom chalkboard. Though we fought at times due to my youngest sibling syndrome that encouraged me to be the most annoying human imaginable (“who’s on the phone, who’s on the phone *poke* RYAN — who’s on the phone”) and your constant teasing…you’re my big brother and that has always been incredible. I always know that you are a phone call away and that you would drop anything to be there if I really, truly needed you.
Max; my second big brother, a wordsmith, my teacher, my friend. You came into my world under difficult circumstances but I have not looked back since having you to call my brother. You have always been the quiet one that doesn’t say much, rarely complains but who is always observing and digesting. I believe I am more thoughtful and considerate having known you. You bring humour, joy, intelligence and love to our crazy Stowens family and I love you for that. Your hugs are my one of my favourite things because I can feel how much love you have for me each time you give me one. Your talent with words and music is something I admire most about you. Thank you for always encouraging my passion for poetry and for always pushing me to be better by witnessing your work and drive.
Stephanie; my big sister, the traveller, free spirit, my friend. I always wanted a sister, another girl to bond with and grow up with. Some of my favourite memories were our dance rehearsals (that you choreographed — of course) to Paula Abdul. We of course charged a .50 cent fee for entry to then go buy candy from the store after all our hard work. You have always been the outgoing one in our family. The outspoken, strong yet sensitive, energetic ball of energy. Shrieks of laughter always filled the house no matter what room you were in. You have always been unable to stay in one place (much like your dad but on a bigger scale) bouncing around the country and the world. I have always looked up to your sense of adventure and your fearlessness to jump into any new endeavour with both feet.
I am so lucky to have each of you — so differently wonderful and complicated. As we get older responsibility peeks around the corner and things change. We change. Opinions change. Locations change. Jobs change. Life changes. It is harder to keep in touch. It is harder to agree. It is harder to express our wants, needs and vulnerabilities. I want all three of you to know that I am not perfect and I am so glad to have had you to influence my life. I have learned so much from each of you and I hope you have gotten something out of knowing me as well (at the very least).
Family is not without conflict. It is what makes us stronger individuals and able to form stronger relationships. I would be remiss and dishonest if I did not mention the challenges our sibling relationships have faced and are currently facing.
Ryan; we do not always agree, that is for sure. You are laid back and easy going and I am more uptight and structured. I like plans, you like to go with the flow. We both possess that dreaded Stevens trait of avoidance and it really does hinder us. I see the potential you have to do great things. To have a creative outlet through a podcast or a blog but also maintaining a career to provide for a family you were born to have. You are such a loving, compassionate human that I know would make a great father and husband. However, although I believe all that to be true, I also get frustrated. I get frustrated that you do not take control of your life, you rely on others to make sure you never fall too hard. We are so very fortunate to have so many wonderful, loving people that have given us everything and more, sacrificed their own happiness to ensure we have the best life — be grateful, give back, work hard, make their sacrifice worth it! Ask for help if you need it, I am here. But stop pretending things are different than what they are. Be better — WANT to be better. I love you and I want the world for you…go out and get it!
Max; I wish we were closer. I wish I worked harder at our relationship because you are so special. Every time I am with you I am reminded that I am in the presence of a genius. Be brave. Take leaps and chances. You have a family that cares deeply for you and we want to see you soar. I am so proud of how you are challenging yourself but I want to learn more. I am sorry I have not reached out more and caught up on your life. I hope that this letter will be the push I need to strengthen our relationship by hanging out more, talking more and just being more present in each others lives. You’re a true star that I admire and I love you for everything that you are and everything you will become!
Stephanie; we have probably had the most complex relationship. We are very different (which isn’t a bad thing) and we often find it difficult to view certain situations from the others point of view. You have always been a strong personality — which is something I admire, but it also comes with its share of tension. I have always admired your strength and persistence to go after whatever you want with a full heart. The way you committed to tree planting and going back to school was admirable and brave. However we do not always see eye to eye. Lately we have had a more strained relationship. Distance is always a factor that can hinder a relationship but I believe that it just takes a little more effort. Particularly on my part. I do not try hard enough to keep in touch — and I am sorry. It shows that my efforts have lacked in how I really don’t know how you are doing. I think in our more recent past we have both been purposely neglectful because we have felt hurt by each others words and actions. I hope that one day we can find it within ourselves to try and mend our relationship. You are a force to be reckoned with and the life you have made for yourself is one that seems to make you happy and that makes me happy.
There is nothing in the world I would want to change about our crazy, unique, interesting family. Being your sister is a privilege I hope to never take for granted. You have all contributed to who I am and for that I will always be thankful.