I met you nine years ago.
But you were someone different before I knew you.
Let me take you on a trip down memory lane.
Just remember, you haven’t lost your way because the door is always open.
Welcome to the year 1989 in small-town Indiana.
President Ronald Reagan delivered his farewell address to a nation looking for Hope.
You, however, found hope in mom’s gracious heart and a pair of glass slippers.
The shiny shoes brought you to a place of comfort and unbelievable imagination.
Tomorrow — you, Mom, Jeff and Jane would hop in the car to make the long trek down to Florida.
On the drive, you stared out the window and looked at the cloud-formations in the sky.
You dreamed of living in a cloud-castle because this clearly happens in fairytales.
But in reality, you counted down the minutes until you would see Dad again.
All of a sudden, mom realized she forgot to pack the slippers and made an urgent call.
A couple days later, he arrived with your hopes and dreams in his hands; the pair of glass slippers. As the princess, you ran into your father’s arms in splendid joy.
You were ecstatic because you were reunited once again with your prince.
In the meantime, the ocean waves rolled in and out, forming their own clouds in the sand.
Welcome to the year 1996.
USA won the inaugural World Cup of Hockey.
Baba and Grandpa are standing in their yard.
You were probably around eight years old.
From what I recall, you thought you were a puppy before you were a little girl.
Before Becky came into the picture, your best friend was a black Labrador Retriever by the name of Dakota.
As the frisbee soared across the yard, Kota jumped up to catch it, and ran back towards you to catch your heart, too.
With Baba and Grandpa cheering you on, life was a perfect memory.
Then one afternoon, Baba surprised you with your very own miniature frisbee.
Because of this precious gift, you were flying high once again.
Even though this sweet pup is now in Heaven, “Kota” misses you, and the one hot summer day when you ran around the yard with a frisbee in your mouth pretending to be just like her.
Welcome to 2006.
NASA launched the New Horizons Spacecraft.
You transferred into Belmont the Spring semester of freshman year.
You missed the fall semester because you broke your ankle in a car crash.
During class introductions, she thought you were too enthusiastic and quite annoying; and you thought she was the “mean girl” from Upstate New York.
As the weeks rolled on, you were invited to your friend Jackie’s house to study for accounting. To your wild surprise, Jackie’s roommate turned out to be the very same girl who thought you were a little over the top.
When you arrived to study, the “mean girl” wasn’t too impressed but eventually welcomed you with open arms and no more friction.
Now, you two are the best of friends and world travelers.
Welcome to 2007, a year full of possibilities.
Bob Barker aired his last episode of The Price Is Right.
You invited me into your home and it was an exciting evening enjoying baked ziti, wild laughter, and Woodchuck Cider.
No one’s ever REALLY invited me over, especially since high school.
I remember Kenny Valentine, the temporary love of your life.
You squeezed him tight, kissed him, and then I met Sean.
As your brother, I approved of him (and a couple of your other boyfriends) because I was on your side.
I supported your songwriting, didn’t feel lonely to alone with you, and continuously asked if you thought I’d ever get married. You weren’t too sure.
Even though I knew you’d be the first to get married, the most wonderful and imperfect guy is still waiting for you around the bend (and maybe he could be one of my friends).
Tomorrow, it’s 2016.
For the first time in history, the national Powerball lottery will surpass one billion dollars.
I just sent you a New Year’s video text message from my wife, Olive and I.
You smiled when you received it and shared it with your girlfriends around the dinner table.
On the first day of the year, you’ll probably learn a new cocktail recipe for the Southwest terminal — map out another adventure to take you from Point A to Point B — and maybe even, contemplate dating again.
In other news, did you get my text?
If not, I’ll send you a few more encouraging messages — and emails, phone calls, FaceTime sessions.
love Brother Benz.