Somehow in the last decades of living on my own I shifted from thinking about my brother as my sibling to thinking about him as a person. But lately I’ve been going back to thinking of him as my brother, remembering that we have that shared experience, the feeling of being on a team (Team Let’s Pretend, Team Stay Up Late, Team Don’t Tell Mom & Dad).

He and I have the same memories. Yes, from when we were kids, but also from being teens, watching MTV, figuring out the world, even Mom’s illness. That feeling of having someone who knows your history like that that is so reassuring. That’s what a sibling gives you, and that solidity is something I’ve taken for granted.

My brother is someone who will fight like hell for his family. He’s the person I’d call if I needed to get rid of a body or rig up a camp to survive the apocalypse. He is incredibly smart, sensitive, caring, and open and he’s been a good friend and good brother to me my whole life–even when I didn’t admit it.

Therapy has taught me that relationships and feelings take work, but that the work is worth it. I’m grateful I can work on myself and strengthen my oldest friendship: the one with my brother. Happy birthday, Alan. I love you.