National Siblings Day | Personal Moments in Belleville, IL | St. Louis Photographer

I actually didn't know it was National Siblings Day this morning. Oops!!!!

Once I realized, I quickly dug into my stash of photos, looking for any pictures I could find of my brothers and me.

You see, they both live in South Korea. Normally I would have forced them to come over so I could take pictures of them with my handy-dandy camera. But I haven't seen them since November, so my stash will have to do.

If any of you know me well, or my brothers, you know that we're very close. Like super duper close. We're the kind of siblings who become friends with each other's friends. If one of us brings home a pal, then they become like family and all of us become friends with them. It's just what we do. Even in elementary school, if we had the same recess, we sat and played together. In high school, if we had lunch, we ate together. And in college, when we had the same class, we sat and studied together.

To us, family is extremely important. I think going through the loss of loved ones teaches you how to keep close those people around you. For us, even though I don't think we did it consciously, we held onto each other as tight as we could. But even beyond losing our dad young, our mom instilled in us that to love someone, you sacrifice for them. Growing up we always supported each other in everything. If I was in a play at school, they not only came to see me, but came to every show. When I was in a traveling worship band in college, they drove to all of the churches we played at to see me. Even though we played the same exact set.

Since we were raised with the mindset of family first, people first, I think it was easy to grow up close. We weren't ever embarrassed by each other. We never had the sibling relationship that you see in movies. The big sister being grossed out and annoyed by her younger brothers, and the brothers sneaking into her room and reading her diary and then bribing her later. You know what I'm talking about....

We were the opposite. In fact, our favorite pastime is hanging out together, discussing movies, history, the Bible, and almost anything to do with stories we've read, have heard of, or have written.

With them, I am exactly who I am. It's crazy when you have people in your life who know you so deeply. So intricately. This term isn't usually used outside of romantic notions, but these two men are my soulmates. Yes, we fight. Yes, we have differences and don't always see eye to eye. But they are my absolute best friends.

Fun Facts About My Bubbies:

Kevin is very witty with a "special" way with words. When he was a kid he could talk anyone into doing almost anything and more than half the kids in our neighborhood "gave" him toys, because they "loved" him. LOL! Luckily he grew out of that.... He is very very compassionate and has a deep love for people. He is very stubborn, and he loves to debate. Even little things, like, which coffee house has the best coffee or which pants would you rather wear, blue or light blue. He has amazing leadership skills and is a strong leader. Although he does not have a super creative streak, he has a very perceptive mind and is an amazing writer and speaker. Also, if you didn't know, he can sing; he looooooves music. He likes bright colored socks, loves to dress to the T, can convince a penny it's a quarter, can eat cans of black olives, and has a knack for breaking things when he throws anything he shouldn't. He is a very strong leader who loves to love people. His compassion helps him succeed in ministry, as he works to love and lead people and his students as God wants him to.

Aaron is extremely creative and perceptive with an amazing ability to memorize everything he reads and retain vast amounts of information. He is cool and collected, with the ability to spit out one-liners right in perfect timing. He is a writer, drawer, graphic designer, singer, historian buff, and cultural and language extraordinaire. What took me 7 years to learn in Korean, he learned in about 6 months. He is also quite stubborn (trend in our family, I think...), and often has to think something through for a few weeks in order to be convinced of anything. He is a master at chess, loves to play Ratatouille in the kitchen, makes a mean hot chocolate, tends to find and eat anything I secretly stash away for later, and knows the whole timeline of Godzilla's history. But beyond that, he has a heart for God, and for doing what is just and right. He is always following and studying his moral compass, and working hard to grow in his knowledge of God.

To be honest it's been pretty hard since they've left. Kevin, the middle child, left a month after Roxas was born in 2015. And Aaron, the baby, left in January of 2018. Two people who have been with me for as long as I can remember no longer get to share life with me. Don't get me wrong. I am proud. So stinking proud. How often do people get the opportunity to go see the world, and have the courage to follow the path God has for them? To move across country and start over in a place completely opposite of their own? They make me so proud every day. So much so that I just want to sit and weep sometimes.

Weep, because even though I'm proud, I don't get to tell them that every day. I don't get to see with my eyes the difference they're making. I don't get to be present. To hear their voices, hug them, hold their hands, fix their hair, straighten their clothes, smell their cologne. I don't get to comfort them when they're crying, laugh at their incessant jokes and wit, meet their friends and coworkers and the people they are growing to love, nor do I get to see them as they lead others and grow in experience and wisdom. They are becoming men before my very eyes, and I only get to see it through my computer screen.I'm missing it and it kills me sometimes.

My mom, cousin, boys and I went to visit them back in November of 2018, and I made a special point to take pictures of them. I wanted pictures of them with my boys. So we could remember. We tried multiple times tin the week and a half we were there. But either because of their schedule or because of Roxas and Axel's exhaustion, we couldn't. It finally came down to the day we had to leave for the U.S. We woke up early to pack, and I had given up hope of getting the pictures done. I was super bummed. Kevin stopped me as I was packing, made me drop everything, and insisted we go out, even at 7 AM in the morning.

So we did. We got dressed, grabbed the boys and went out into the foggy November air.

And I am so so so thankful we did.

Location: Daejeon, South Korea

Family: Kevin, Aaron, Roxas, Axel

These are the moments I cherish every single second. My boys.

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