Today my younger brother Ben turns 30. He is only 2 years younger than me, so he was my first sibling, my first friend, and the first one I tormented. When he was little, he was a shock of white blond hair, wild eyebrows and manic laughter as he ran around the house on his tiptoes. As a typical older sister, I tattled on him and hurt his feelings, but fiercely defended him against all neighborhood foes at the same time.
Ben is passionate about everything he does and pursues things with an almost religious devotion to knowing all there is to know about that subject. We probably poke too much fun at him for sharing all the knowledge he has found on said subjects at random moments, but the truth is I admire his wholehearted approach to life. He is fluent in German, even living there for a short while, immersing himself in the language and culture. He completely taught himself to play bass and is now a professional musician and signed recording artist with his band, Citizen Way.
He got married the same year I did to this lovely lady, and 7 years later, they have given us two beautiful nieces.
It has been amazing to watch him devote his trademark enthusiasm to being an incredible father and husband. His family is missing him tons today as he is on tour, but I know their support means the world to him, and it is inspiring to watch them pull together and do hard things. They are writing an incredible story on the lives of their family, and I am proud of them.
Intense is a great word to describe Ben. He can't sit still, has no shortage of opinions, and is always hungry. But he's also loyal, principled, chivalrous. He listens to stories with eyebrows raised, anticipating your every word, and he even laughs with intensity, his whole body convulsing and then crumpling to the floor in silent hysterics.
So happy 30th birthday, Ben! Keep laughing, loving, and living with that intensity that is too often missing from this world.