This is a love letter. Writing love letters is not something I’ve done a lot of over the years, but before the days of instant messaging and cell phones that allow us to communicate from all corners of the earth, the depths of one’s affection for another could be evidenced by taking the time to pen a love letter. It spells out, “Here is what I want you to know.” It comes with the bonus of a profound exploration of emotions, feelings I might never have noticed if I hadn’t taken the time to scribe this message.
Michael Rowe, this is my love letter to you.
First, I want to say, “Thank you.” Thank you for being you, for your acerbic wit and willingness to be seen. Your bravery never ceases me amazing me. You are so amazingly fearless in ways that I am not. You don’t back down and keep quiet when you see an injustice, you speak up. You became the writer that I always wanted to be, but was never bold enough to become. So thank you for your bravery. In a world where so many people hide to avoid public condemnation, you are unafraid to be yourself.
I want you to know how very much I admire your graciousness. I think it goes beyond mere good manners. Though you are not tolerant of fools, you allow a wide berth, and those who are loved by you know it. I have never known anyone so skilled at cherishing friends. I marvel at how very many lives you have touched, not simply because you are a public figure but because of how much energy you devote to letting those you love feel how treasured they are.
We never truly know the marks we imprint upon on the people in our lives. We all mark each other, for better or worse. I have been marked by you. You have been marked by me. But the thing that amazes me is how well you manage to keep people in your life. I wonder how you do it.
So many of the people who pass through our lives never know the difference they have made. I’ve made peace with that. I’ve likely forgotten most of the people who have changed me. I rarely linger in the past, so in most cases, I’ve just moved on. Unlike you, I cannot muster the energy to maintain those relationships. It is not that I didn’t love them; it’s not that they didn’t matter; it’s more like the present has gotten in my way.
You were always good at nostalgia. I am not.
So thank you for making the effort. Thank you for not leaving me behind. Thank you for demonstrating how fiercely love can take what matters and turn it into art to be treasured in the world. Such love endures – it stretches far beyond the moment it was birthed. It becomes its own entity, living in the world as its own individualized expression. It becomes a love letter. I know that in some ways, Enter Night was such a love letter. I admire that. I want you to know how much I appreciate it.
So on this day, Happy Birthday to you, Michael Rowe. Thank you for being my little brother. Thank you for continuing to show me a braver way to be in this world. Thank you for being unabashedly, unapologetically you. You are an inspiration. I love you.
Your Big Sister,