(Matt taking Andrew, Jesse, Courtney
and me for a ride around the neighborhood on his Honda dirt bike, 1984)
For my thirtieth birthday in 2011, Christian (without me knowing)
asked my eight siblings to each write me a personalized letter.
It was the best present in the whole wide world.
The letters were touching and emotional for me to read.
Some siblings shared personal experiences, some
shared funny memories and sweet words.
As I was cleaning out my basement just a few weeks ago,
I came across those letters.
I re-read all of them. I must have cried for an hour straight.
They are some of my most cherished possessions.
Reading my second oldest brother Matt's letter touched me so deeply.
He was thirteen when I was born and he nicknamed me "Baboon"
because I had loads of peach fuzz all over my back and arms.
Now he is the Bishop of our ward (congregation) at church.
I was called to work by his side as the Young Women's president.
This past year has been extremely amazing to work with him.
Matt is the father of five children and soon-to-be grandpa.
He works hard, loves his family and wife,
and is one of the most humble men I know.
In his letter he wrote me almost five years ago, he said:
"I'm finding out that the older I get the more I cherish the relationships
with my family members- especially the ones
that were so young when I "left the nest".
I feel so blessed to be your brother and to have been a part of your miracle.
I remember vividly seeing you for the first time after your accident.
I was overwhelmed and went home and sobbed praying to
Heavenly Father to take you so you wouldn't have to suffer the things to come.
That was a faithless and selfish desire at the time and looking back now
I am so glad you decided to fight and be strong to stay here with us.
Life is great Baboon, don't ever let the blips of trial or discouragement
make you think otherwise. Your beauty inside and out is what
I see in you each time we are together.
I promise you'll always feel my brotherly love watching out
for you and your family. I love you, Matt"