I’m terrible at birthdays. I always forget them, especially yours. Is it the 18th, the 27th, or the 28th? I never seem to know. I do remember one birthday of yours in particular, though. I think it was your 21st or maybe your 25th, and I was a young teen. I know you arrived at our old house late in the night in a limo full of your friends. We said hello and chatted for a while until you flitted away to chat with others. Then, a few minutes later, I heard you lean in close to Mom and say “Is Aubrey awake? I don’t want her to see me like this…” Hahaha. I chuckled then and now. I loved it. I soaked it all up. It was delightful for me to see you let loose and have so much fun.
It’s weird to have a sister that’s 9ish years older than I am. For a long time it was like having another Mom, especially because in some ways you were more disciplined and more strict with me than our actual Mom (not a difficult task to accomplish with such laid back hippie parents as ours). But even as my sister-mom, when I was obnoxious and young and you were coming of age and always wise beyond your years, you guided me by your example. In middle school, I wrote a speech. It was supposed to be about someone who inspired me. I remember being one of the few in my small class who did not write about a celebrity or a famous person in history. I wrote about my sister.
Nowadays, I like to joke with people about how my sister is vastly different from me and infinitely better than I am (both true. inside and out she’s better than I am). I catalogue your many achievements: marathons, triathlons, nursing degrees, years of hard and emotionally draining work, selfless end-of-life care for so many of our relatives. I would not be where I am today– new town, new school, new job–if I had not seen you pick up and remake everything anew so many times in your life, whenever a certain place and time had run its course and you were ready for a new adventure; an indescribably courageous task when you consider that our entire family lives within a forty mile radius of itself.
I sometimes wonder if you know how it hurts me to see you hurt, and then I feel how willing you are to grieve with me and so ready to build me back up whenever I am in pain, and I know you must know these feelings are mutual between us.
So maybe you will always be my sister-mother. Maybe you will always be there nurturing me and guiding me. But alongside your sister-mother duties, now you are also my sister-friend. Now we can choose to talk and laugh and play. Now we can take adventures together!! Now I can tell you that I love you, not just because you are my sister and I have to. Now I can tell you that I love you because I know you and choose to love you as one of my closest friends. Because I do love you. And, of course, I miss you. I miss you and I love you, Meagan.