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My hero, my (sober) brother.

Antagonist and protector. Similar and opposite. Competitor and ally. Friend. Hero.

My brother.

My brother is truly my hero.  This last year proved it.  

Only 11 months separate us in age, but as with most siblings, we are worlds apart in who we are.  Or are we? We’ve spent exactly 44 years today as siblings. Many of those years acknowledging how different we are.  Now at this age, we celebrate our differences, and acknowledge one another as perfectly flawed adults that resulted from the same childhood. 

We both survived, and thrived, through an interesting, dynamic, and mostly good childhood, and a not exactly awful, but less than great teenage experience. Always an adventure.  Paul raced motorcycles, so we traveled a lot, and from that, now we are blessed with some amazing friends scattered across this country. That kind of lifestyle for teenagers gives you great opportunities; and with great opportunity comes great responsibility.  We had to be kind of worldly, some might call it, street smart, or whatever. We learned some great lessons, we got away with more than we should have sometimes and saw a lot of “stuff” by the time we were navigating high school. So, there’s that. We weren’t sheltered.  You learn a lot in the pits of motorcycle tracks in random towns.

Then, let’s acknowledge that we “come from a long line of sinners” as the country song goes. Our sinners are great people, mostly hard working, blue-collar America types, but this group of sinners likes to drink. Both sides of the family. Both grandfathers, and plenty more of us. There could be a slight genetic pre-disposition to addiction.  And we never lacked access.

So, we survived. Then Paul and I were candid with one another as young professionals working to grow our careers. Our sameness was, we both have tolerance for alcohol, probably more than we should. Our difference was, I usually like to stay to the bitter end, have the last conversation, get some business done, pay the bar bill, and be up for the 5:30 am workout – mostly so I can say I could and did. Paul, on the other hand, could not maintain the professional social drinking, he just wanted to drink hard, and he recognized that, multiple times.  I didn’t know how hard it was. Honestly, I still don’t. I do, however, have empathy now that I didn’t 10 years ago.

According to NCDAS, alcohol abuse will kill more than 3 million people worldwide this year, 385 Americans will die today, and every day, because of alcohol. 

Paul. My first friend, my brother, my greatest supporter. He’s a husband, and the most amazing daddy. He’s one of my top-2 favorite people in the world. He’s the most tremendous athlete, and just keeps challenging himself and getting even stronger, tougher, and faster! He’s the Ying to my Yang.

And he’s sober.  April 2023. He’s 15 months sober. And I’m so damn proud I could shout it from the rooftops.

I don’t pretend to know how hard this journey has been. But I do know I can’t ever find the words to adequately express my love and admiration for who he is today, and who he’s always been. My gratitude to be a part of it all, the conversations, and confidences that I am blessed to share, and the friendship I have with this 44-year-old hero of mine.

Happy Birthday Paul. I pray 44 blesses, grows, challenges and rewards you in all the right ways.

“Sisters and brothers are the truest, purest forms of love, family and friendship; knowing when to hold you and when to challenge you, but always being a part of you.”

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