The word is pride. It’s taken quite some time to arrive at this singular expression of emoción, but after careful (very careful if you know me well) thought and consideration, that is really the most appropriate palabra to describe what this picture evokes in me. My nephew took it this weekend on a whim, while we were sitting around my mother’s table just laughing and talking. It’s my younger brother. The baby boy of the familia.

We always used to joke when he was younger that one day my parents’ property in Mexico would be his because he is the youngest male in the family. That is the tradition where my parents are from you see. I don’t know that any of us were ever serious about it, but it was just one of those things that we as American born children of Mexican parents really didn’t understand. Sure, it was an actual tradition. We just didn’t know how practical it was for our situation?

I mean we were living in apartments here, paying mortgages eventually, and really creating opportunities for ourselves here. What could any of us really do with a property in Mexico? And if it was something my parents would want to leave us, would they really want to follow what seemed like an ancient tradition to us? We didn’t know… and we probably still don’t today. But that’s neither here nor there.

What makes me feel proud about this picture is the story behind it.

A few months ago he moved away to a completely different city. He left behind friends, family, and really quite a comfortable life. Explaining to my mother at one point that his moving to another state was akin to her moving to another country at an even younger age many, many years ago. She did it then to create an opportunity for all of her children. He now was doing it for himself.

As we waved goodbye this weekend I couldn’t help but remember the letter my brother wrote and read to my mother on Christmas Eve this year. It was encased in a picture frame with the watermark of an old picture of all of us together. For her to keep and reference as often as she would like. The letter was an expression of gratitude from a son who now through his own experiences is understanding what it means to leave it all behind and start over. It was really quite an emotional and heartfelt moment. I think a lot of us cried a little bit.

And that’s what I see when I look at this picture. A picture of all of us. Growing. Changing. Realizing. Understanding. And appreciating the things that truly matter in life. Life. Love. Health. Each other. Experience. And the wisdom to just embrace the moments life gives us. Not to try to change them or create them as we think they should be. But to simply accept them as part of our journey together.

Lessons from my brother