Dear Matthew – my one and only brother, my best friend –
I know that most people cannot wait to get away from their siblings, to move out of the house when they get married. But I think it’s safe to say that our relationship as brother and sister differs from the norm.
It will not be easy to leave you, even though I want you to know that I am not really leaving you: we’re the best pair. We have an understanding of each other that others cannot comprehend, not even mom and dad. I get things about you that no one else has any clue about; I’ve always thought we must have some sort of telepathy. But I’m not going to pretend that growing up with you as my little brother was always the easiest for me... it was hard to understand why you would get away with certain things that I never did; why it was okay for you to throw tantrums in public but I should always “know better.” It seemed like you would ALWAYS get your way: like it was part of my job as your older sister to make sure I gave up the front seat of the car when you got upset. That I didn’t complain when we had to stop at every train track to watch for trains – no matter where we were going - and stay until we saw the caboose whenever there actually was a train. That I had to pretend I was excited to take our biweekly family trips to the Toledo Airport and watch planes take off and land for what seemed like hours on end. No it wasn’t always the easiest. Growing up together was hard.
As I am writing this letter to you, I am embarrassed to admit to certain feelings that I have felt throughout our 21 years together. However, I think they are important to our story; essential to understanding our relationship and why we are as close as we are. More often than not, I found myself battling with you for attention. I know you never intentionally made me feel like I had to, it was just a concept I had to come to on my own. None of my friends understood what it was like to have a sibling with Autism; I’m not even sure that I understood until I was a lot older. It was difficult, especially during those teenage years, to feel as though I was the only one on the entire planet that lived in this unique world. Our lives always looked so different. It was hard to invite friends over because I knew they wouldn’t quite think it was “normal” when you would walk around with nothing but underwear on (sometimes not even that, ha), hold your breath and wring your hands when you were anxious/excited, or throw things on the floor when you got upset. And I’m sure they never knew what to say when all you’d want to talk about was airplanes, trains, and the number 11 – and probably still don’t, because some things never change ;) But the truth behind it is, even though at times it was hard for me, I never minded explaining to people that this is the way you communicated. It took me some time to realize that instead of trying so hard to “wish” you into my world, to conform you to whatever society claims “normal” is, I needed to come into your world. Matthew Edward Pierson, you are a blessing to say the very least. I am pretty confident in saying that not everyone’s brother calls them on a daily basis when they go off to college – but I was lucky enough to get one each day (sometimes two or three... or ten). Because of you, I know more about airplanes, airports, and airlines than most people will ever know in a lifetime, and I can always count on you to track my flights when I fly. In fact, I bet no one else can say they always get a play by play on the location their plane is flying from, the elevation it is currently flying in the sky, and exactly what time the plane will be landing to pick them up (down to the minute) – including whether it is delayed and how long. I also know that sitting over the wing is the safest place to sit on a plane ever since you took it upon yourself to get into my flight plans to Georgia last year and switch my seat from where I was sitting with Bob’s family into a seat over the wing: even though I was upset for a while after that little ploy, I know you did it to keep me safe. Not everyone’s brother cares that much. I am lucky that you love me as unconditionally as you do. You may not tell me “I love you,” but you show me in ways that means so much more than words can express. Thank you for being the person that you are. You are an intelligent man that can always make me smile, which means you always know how to make my day better when I am having a rotten one. I’m not sure that you know this, but I learn from you every day, Matt. You have taught me an enormous amount of patience, how to overcome even the toughest of challenges, and how to be genuine – because you are the most genuinely honest person that I know, and there needs to be more people like you in this world. You say what you mean, even though sometimes it’s not what people want to hear. I’ll tell you one thing, if I ever want to know exactly how my hair looks or if my dress is pretty, I can always count on you to tell me the truth (lol). Matty, you have inspired my career, directed my passion, and encouraged me to be the best teacher and person I can be. You have given me a deeper understanding and emotional connection to individuals with disabilities, which is essentially why I love my job so much – and for that I am forever thankful.
I want you to know that you will always be my brother, my best friend, and my partner in crime. Even when I get married, our relationship will never change. You can still call me every day and tell me about the flight you are currently tracking, explain something about the Yankees and the Lions that I know nothing about, and ask me 5+ times “what are you doing?” I will always pick up the phone. I will always want to talk to you. No matter what, we will always be the best pair. I will still understand you better than anyone, and I take pride in that. I take pride in the fact that you are MY little brother, because I am proud to be your older sister. I don’t honestly know whether you truly understand the words I am writing,but I’d like to think that most of what I said you already know to be true. Sometimes I’d like to get inside your head just to be sure,because I like to know the answers, but really I think I already do. Thank you for being more than just my brother – you have already turned out to be my hero and you’re only 21 years old – that’s a pretty awesome accomplishment if you ask meI am so very blessed to have you standing up with me on my wedding day; your presence alone will calm my nerves (not about marrying Bob, of course, but about the crowd of people watching!) I could not have asked God for a more perfect brother than you, because I truly do not believe there is anyone better. I love you to the moon and back bubba, and even that doesn’t cover it.
Love you always, Sam