Today I want to talk about the Last Letter I wrote to my brother.
As we discussed, Randy Pausch was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer.
So was my brother.
After doing everything I could to support my brother (and his family), after a two-year battle we knew he only had weeks then days to live.
As we discuss in this +1 on Gratitude Letters (+ Visits), expressing our appreciation to others in the form of a letter that we READ TO THEM IN PERSON can be an incredibly powerful experience for both people involved.
I wrote my brother a letter of appreciation.
And I read it to him on what was, literally, his death bed. 🙏
It was one of the most powerful moments of my life—one that I will cherish forever and one that I am so happy I experienced as it allowed me to end my relationship with my brother with a deep sense of connection and love.
I would like to share that letter with you today as a tribute to my brother and, I hope, as an inspiration for you to consider doing something similar if there is someone in your life who you think would appreciate hearing how much you appreciate them. 🙇♂️
I also shared this letter at my brother's end of life celebration.
A little more context: I am the youngest of five kids—good Catholic family! My mom got married to my dad at seventeen and had my brother when she was eighteen. Then she had three girls then, after waiting THIRTEEN years, my brother finally had a little brother.
The title of my letter was: “Love You, Brother Rick.”
My Dear Brother Rick,
I want you to know how much I appreciate you.
Thank you for supporting me for the last 45 years.
I know you waited a long time to have a little brother and I want you to know that I think you’ve been a great big brother.
I was reading a book on gratitude the other day (you know me! 🤓) and they talked about the power of writing a letter of gratitude to someone who has supported you and made your life better.
I IMMEDIATELY thought of you. Before anyone else.
Then they asked a bunch of questions, including: “Who taught you how to throw a baseball?” and I laughed then started to cry.
I’m not sure if you’re the one who taught me how to throw a baseball (you probably did—so thanks!!) but I’m pretty sure you were involved in making sure my first word was “Ball!”
As I thought about you and baseball and sports and reflected on their question, the image that came to mind was you helping me practice free throws before I entered a free-throw contest when I was in 8th grade. I don't know if you remember but I must have been 12 or so—which means you must have been around 25. If I’m remembering correctly, we cruised on over to Gisler Park (did we walk or drive in your sweet blue Celica which I had probably just waxed?! 🙂) and you rebounded countless shots and delivered bullet passes so I didn’t have to move an inch as I took shot after shot after shot.
As I reflected on that memory, I thought to myself, “What 25-year-old guy does that for his little brother?”
A good man. That’s who.
(btw: We crushed that free-throw competition—tying for first place with something like 22 or 23 out of 25. Hah! Go us!!)
Then I thought of you coaching my Little League Baseball teams. Coach Rick before he was THE COACH RICK! I can still see you down there on the third-base line cheering me on as I made my strike zone invisible and tried to rip one down the line in your direction. I’m not sure if I managed to do much more than walk or bunt (then steal second!) but that wasn’t because you weren’t there to bring out my best.
Then I thought of all the weekend trips to your place over an hour away where we’d play darts all night long and drive back with the sunroof open and you brushing your hair in style! (Oh, the days when we both had hair!)
Then I thought about hanging off my big brother’s arms—which were so superhero big and strong that I couldn’t even wrap my hands around them.
Then I imagined watching you play softball and marveling at your booming home runs and gold-glove-like shortstop plays.
Then I thought of the honor of being your best man. How was that 25 years ago?!
Then I fast-forwarded through countless other moments of connection to the first chat we had about my second business. I was raising money. I got to the end of whatever my pitch was and you said, “Brother Brian. I don’t care what you’re doing. It’s you. It’s going to work. I’m in.”
That was one of the most touching moments of my life—to feel 100% unconditionally supported and to know how much you believed in me.
All that to say: I love you. I appreciate you.
I want you know that I wouldn’t be who I am today without you and your support.
Thank you, brother.
- Your Little Brother Brian
P.S. Here are a couple other gems mom found: