Hugs in a Lunch Box: A Tiny Tribute to My Twin Brother

He’s the funniest guy I know, my brother is, the one I shared a womb with for seven months. The one who almost didn’t make it out because of that cord wrapped around his neck. And you could say┬álife has given him trouble from the very start, that some Force has been out to get him, but you’d never know it to look at him. Or to listen to him. Because you’re too busy laughing.

I remember sitting on his kitchen counter late one night, riveted by his recounting of the war in Iraq, how as a scout he was caught in the enemy’s crosshairs dozens of times, how he risked his life for the guys riding along in his humvee, how he had to make gut-wrenching decisions that affected the lives of innocent civilians. And I was laughing hysterically. Not because it’s funny. Hardly. But because he made the hideous, hilarious.

His wife walked out on him just days before that night I sat on his Formica, hours before I landed on the doorstep of his military housing, and he was devastated. But during the four or five days I spent with him, scouring his house, stocking his cupboards, teaching him family recipes, I’d never laughed so hard in my life. I was supposed to be helping him, but somehow the reverse was true, somehow he ended up ministering to me. And somehow, I told myself, if he could just keep his stellar sense of humor, he’d make it through this one alive, too.

And he did. Brilliantly. Only now he’s not just the funniest guy I know, he’s also the greatest dad.

For the past five years, as the sole custodial parent, my brother has forged a remarkably strong bond with his two young daughters, making countless sacrifices on their behalf. He got out of the military just a few years shy of retirement to avoid the risk of another deployment. He took a job with less pay but flexible hours so he could be home before his girls left for school and after they returned. He slept on an air mattress for years so the girls could have their own private rooms.

He braids their hair, reads to them at night, and even calls his ex-wife every evening so they can say goodnight to their mom. He coaches their basketball teams, shops for training bras, and sticks love notes in their lunch boxes.

And he does it all with a smile, even though some days I’m sure he’d love to cry.

But the best part is that I’m not the only one who notices; his girls get it, too. They know they are loved, they know they have a gem for a dad. And recently they decided to let him know in his lunch box, too.

Hugs in a Lunch Box


Hugs in a Lunch Box

It seems they also got his sense of humor, which is awesome, especially coming from him. Along with everything else, he’s teaching his daughters (and the rest of us he amuses along the way) that life doesn’t have to stop being funny when it haunts or hurts. We can still laugh in spite of it. In fact, that’s when we need a good belly laugh the most.

And I have a feeling, with two girls about to hit their teenage years, he’s going to need a few of those himself.

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).

Ben and Girls

Blogger’s Note: Many thanks to my brother, Ben, for the use of these images, to Danielle, for taking that great picture, and to Michelle, for inspiring me to put it all online.


  1. I’d love to share with you how this blog changed my perspective on a few things, and how much it helped to read it, whenever you get a chance…

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