Ten Things I Love About My Baby Sister
My sister lives on the other side of the country from me, a three-hour time differential. I don't even think about her every day. When people ask me if we're close, I always say yes, but it’s probably not what they think. I can't tell you everything there is to know about my sister and she’s not the best at returning calls or texts. But yes, we are close. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t share with my sister. And there’s not much I wouldn’t do within my power, for her. For me, it’s a fierce sister love. And, I do feel close to her, even though we have completely and radically different lives.
She’s the one who remembers, where I conveniently, do not. I am able to love my mother because of my bad memory, while my sister loves her in spite of hers. She remembers what happened in our family. Whenever I am completing some family history survey, I always call her - did mommy and daddy fight about money? No. Did they talk about sex? No. She is the one who remembers.
We're opposite in so many ways - she is fair and I am dark; she is straight and I am curly; she's short and I'm tall; she’s quiet and I am blabby. She follows directions and I, I do not. We both suffered at the hands of our mother, but I did it loudly and with a lot of support from anyone who would listen. I believe my sister suffered quietly and still holds a lot of pain.
My life didn't begin until she was born - seven years on this planet without the person who gave shape to my life. I actually have no memory of before she arrived. But my first vivid memory is coming into my grandmother's dining room and checking the bassinet after school to see if my sister had finally been brought home. She was born a month early, so she spent that first month of her life in the hospital. Every day I checked, and I remember the day that she was in the bassinet as clearly as anything. From that point on I remember not only holding and caring for her, but I remember my life too. Playing with my Barbies in my room at my grandmother's. Helping Gramma wash clothes in her old crank washing machine. I remember my gramma’s pink bathroom and the scented talcum powder with the soft, pink fuzzy puff. Something about my sister being born made my own life come to life.
She is the one person left on the planet who knows me. We know each other. She was the one who always let me in when I broke curfew and had forgotten my key. She came and took care of me in big scary NYC when I had my first child. After a visit, when I have to leave her, it's a painful wrenching departure. Life is unpredictable, will I ever see her again? I love her so much - does she know?
She's a wicked good storyteller and she's so good with language. I’ve asked her many times to guest post for me here and y’all better watch out when she does. She is the one who gave me the expression “pharmaceutical grade chocolate” for chocolate with a very high percent of cocoa. But you probably already knew that because it’s kinda obvious. That’s a good use of language.
She has taught me to be slow where I lean toward quick and impulsive. I used to get frustrated with her because she took so long to say anything. When I complained to my therapist about this, it was suggested that I should try being quiet. So the next time we had dinner together that's what I did, and I quietly sat for what seemed like a long, long time while she chewed her bite. I waited until she finally spoke with her considered response. As is usually the case with my sister, it was worth the wait.
As children, I regularly finished my food before her. Still hungry, I would ask if I could have hers. She never said no, she always said: “not right now”. Just writing that makes me smile. It’s so her, biding her time.
She has the sweetest tiniest littlest dog you’ll ever know - Xena the Warrior Princess is the darling super-sidekick to my sister’s methodical ways. That dog wins the hearts and minds of everyone she comes in contact with and I don’t think there’s much that brings my sister more joy than basking in that reflected glow. They are both such softies.