I never thought it would be so hard for me to watch my brother go on a mission. I'm actually a bit embarrassed because, I mean, people go on missions everyday. It shouldn't be this big of a struggle for me. Plus, it's just two years. I can write him letters and send emails. I can even skype with him on Christmas day. All the same, I'm really going to miss Ronnie Jace, my one and only brother.
I loved Jace from the day he was born. Not only is he my little brother and one of my longest-kept friends, but he gave me an important title. He gave me the title of big sister.
I was so excited when my mom was pregnant with Jace. I waltzed around declaring myself the big sister. My parents didn't find out the sex for any of us kids so it was always a constant guessing game on whether my mom would have a boy or a girl. But I knew from the beginning that I was going to have a little brother. Anytime someone would say to me, "Are you so excited to have a little brother or sister?" I would respond by telling them I was very excited to have a little brother.
After Jace was born, I took it upon myself to protect him and keep him happy, as any good big sister would. I was convinced the only person that could bully him would be me. Which I did all growing up.
My childhood friend Catherine and I would lock Jace out of our wooden playhouse in the garden almost daily.
"What's the password," we would ask in demanding voices. J
ace would say passwords in his gentle little voice and even when he got the password correct, he still wasn't allowed to pass.
"Sorry, we just changed the password."
He constantly wanted to play with me and my friends, but when my friends were around, I was just too cool for my little brother. One time, when Catherine and I were making our pretend radio show where we discussed different animals (this was a common occurrence), we took a break to get a snack. We left our cassette tape and recorder on the couch. Jace usually sat and listened to us record, but we never let him talk even though he begged many times. When we returned from our snack, we found Jace guiltily holding the microphone. He had recorded his own segment on hermit crabs (his favorite animal). At the time, I was angry. Now I'm so glad he did it. I'm glad we have his cute little voice recorded. He had trouble saying his "r"s as a child so he can be heard in his timid voice saying, "I weally wove hewmit cwabs. Maybe I'll buy two ow fwee." Even in my high school years, I managed to pick on Jace here and there. He was a freshman when I was senior. I don't think he realizes how much I worried about him and asked guys my own age to look out for him, but that still didn't mean I didn't tease him ruthlessly when passing him in the hallway between classes.
Along with all the mean things I did to Jace growing up, I feel like I also tried hard to be nice. Jace was very shy when he was little. I, however, was not all that shy. At times I was overconfident and bossy. So I took it upon myself to be Jace's voice when he was too afraid to speak. There were countless times I would coax him to answer an adult or just answer for him if he didn't want to.
Since we were just little all the way up to when I got my driver's license, I sat by Jace on the school bus. I remember once when I was in middle school, I went to sit somewhere else one morning. I heard Jace's sweet voice, "Kelsey . . . please sit by me." I'm sure I rolled my eyes, the way most thirteen year olds do, but I plopped down next to him in my regular spot.
Also, when my friends weren't around, Jace was my very best friend. We had all kinds of games we played together. We were constant companions. Many of our childhood days were spent jumping on the tramp, riding bikes, climbing the crab apple trees in our pasture, and digging in our sandpit. I also easily convinced Jace that dancing in the front room with me was fun. In our dress-up clothes, we had two tutus, a pink one and blue one. Jace always wore the blue one (as I remember it). We would get dressed up and I would turn on and turn up some music in our front room. There we twirled around, the armchairs and piano were our audience. This soon became one of Jace's favorite things to do. He would go put on his tutu and ask if we could play dancers. I guess I should mention that Jace was three/four at this time. If you were imagining him being, say, 12 then this might be a little weird.
Once I graduated from high school, I distanced myself from Jace a bit. We were living in different selfish worlds; high school and college. However, once Jace reached the end of his senior year and decided he would go to a year at USU and then serve a mission, I became excited. I started thinking how much fun it would be to go to college with my brother. Then I realized that I was not the cool big sister but the embarrassing older sister who was married. I would probably rarely see Jace around USU. However, Jace proved me wrong. My brother instantly got very involved at school and even joined a fraternity, but that didn't mean he was too cool for me, the way I had been back when we were kids. There were many times we met up for dinner or went out to a movie. Not only that, Jace would often show up to our townhouse unannounced.
"I just wanted to say hi," he would say as I answered the knock at the door.
Then he would sit in our living room for an hour or two and we would chat and laugh about things. One Saturday morning, he even showed up to surprise me with a Mr. Bucket he had thrifted. All the pieces were still there and it was nearly in perfect condition. My Mr. Bucket had been one of my favorite toys as a kid. I felt extremely special that day that Jace had taken the time to bring me such a special gift.
I don't think he realizes how much I've appreciated our relationship in the last year. We have always been close, but I feel like we are now closer than ever.
So now you understand why I am having anxiety about this mission thing. I'll be the first to admit I'm a drama queen so I'm sure it won't be so bad, but I really will miss my little brother. It's crazy to think when I see him again after tomorrow, he will be almost the same age that I am right now.
Elder Keller, you will be one heck of a missionary. Every time you get out of bed, I'm sure the devil will be nervous. I guess I can give up two years of goofing off with you so that you can bring truth and happiness to other families out there who are currently searching for peace. You are one of the kindest people I've ever met with the biggest heart. How grateful I am to call you my brother. Thank you for giving me one of my favorite titles: big sister.
These are just some pictures I had handy on my laptop. So don't you fret, next time I visit my parents' house, you better believe I'll be digging up that photo of Jace in his tutu. At least I can share embarrassing stuff about him while he's gone and he'll never have to know, right?