Two of my favorite pictures preserve a memory of a deep and treasured friendship. When I was born, he was 2-1/2 years old. I was always big for my age and he was a bit on the small and skinny side. He was blonde and I had very dark brown hair. Most of all, he was a boy and I was a girl. No matter though. He was one of my very best friends and I loved him very much.
From the moment my parents brought me home, my cousin Kevin peered anxiously into my crib, helped me hold my bottle and entertained me endlessly. Once I was old enough to follow him around, I did.
We played with our grandpa's dog and built race tracks for our hot wheels in the dirt pit in the yard. And we went on the greatest adventures. With shovels in hand, we hurried to the yard where we planned to start digging a tunnel to China. Eventually, we grew tired of digging and retired to the family room where we hung out in our fort built with blankets and my mom's kitchen chairs.
One year, for my birthday, I received a book about the United States. Every two-page spread covered a different state. The information on each state included the state bird, the state flower and much more. That book became our guide to even more adventures. Kevin and I took turns picking our destination. Then, we'd climb up on the end of my bed, hang our legs over the footboard and take off! Sometimes we were drove a truck through the mountains or we soared through the skies in a plane over the Grand Canyon. Kevin and I have been everywhere together.
As we grew up, we grew apart. But at every point in my life that has carried significant meaning, Kevin has been there. Now that we are in our 30's, we hug again and we are sure to say "I love you" on at least the holidays. One night, in the 8th inning of a baseball game, Kevin stood up from where we had been sitting with some friends and decided to head home early. As he pushed through the row, he paused to hug me and tell me that he loves me. Everyone around us was amazed because I had been introducing him as my cousin all night. A stranger felt the need to remind me how special that was. But I already knew.
Any time I think about settling for less than what I need or deserve, Kevin shows up somewhere with a moment like that. And he reminds me of my worth, even though he probably doesn't realize it.