Friday, January 7, 2011

The Road So Far

Every time you celebrate another birthday, I think of when you were six. Six years old, and you were so sick, we didn't know what was wrong with you, until the doctors came back and told us.

Meningitis. It sounded like a death sentence. I remember how high your fever was, how I overheard one of the doctors talking, saying that if by some miracle you lived, that you would most certainly be...damaged. All those afternoons we spent, you telling me things that only a six year old could know, the way I could make you laugh so hard you couldn't breathe, the one time at four you had taken my hand, and whispered, "I exist. I'm a person. I'm real," and how amazed I was that such a small body could hold such a big heart, a soul like yours.

You made it through. We all prayed that you would, and I refused to believe that you would die. I refused to believe that anything could happen to you, and when you woke up, you were fine. Smart and sassy as ever.

It's hard to believe that I was there when you were born. I held you in my arms more times than I can ever count. I rocked you to sleep, on that front porch swing, your tiny arm around my neck, trusting that I would hold you and keep you safe.

Keeping you safe was a full-time job, kid, believe me. You never walked for a single instant, you ran everywhere, as if knowing how fast life goes, and you didn't want to miss a single instant of it.

We were at your aunt's house, swimming in their new pool for the first time. Everyone went inside to get dried off, and I heard the back door slam. And I knew, I just knew, and I took off running. I didn't see you outside, and I didn't see you by the pool, but I ran over to it anyway. You jumped in, and when I got to the side of the pool, I saw you looking up at me, underwater. You reached for me, and I pulled you out. The trust in your eyes, the way you looked at me, the pure love was the most precious thing I had ever seen. But it didn't stop me from spanking you.

I remember watching you go out with boys, hating it, because I knew that was something I couldn't protect you from. I couldn't shield you from any potential hurt, the way I could when you were three and trying to scuba dive. I remember meeting your potential boyfriends, smiling at them and thinking to myself, If you hurt her, buddy, I've got a shovel and a hundred acres that says nobody will ever miss you.

It was inevitable that I would never be able to really like anyone you dated, because you are my heart, and no one ever born is really good enough for who you are. Two years ago we started to get really close, sharing things about our lives, our experiences. Instead of sisters, we became best friends.

As your best friend, I knew before you did that your relationship was over. I never told you, because I knew you'd figure it out. So, I came over more often, we would spend long, hilarious weekends drinking and watching our show. That perfect show, about two brothers who were all they had in the world, the kind of siblings who would do anything for each other. Like us.

When that relationship died, you handled it with a grace I only wish I had. You put as much of it behind you as you could, and dealt with the rest head on. I remember looking at you, and wondering just when my baby sister had managed to grow up into this woman that continually managed to amaze me.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow you'll be twenty-one. Twenty-one years of your life that I have had the chance to witness. I can't decide what's better, being your hero in your single digit years, or your best friend now.

What I do know is that I love you. We don't always say it the same way as other people. Sometimes it's me calling you Retardo Montalban for driving on the wrong side of the road, or teasing you about being short, or about how you can buy your shoes in the kids section. Sometimes it's you calling Pete Wentz (who I do not love, btw) my boyfriend, or how I got your share of boobs plus mine. Same with height. Sometimes it's punching each other in the boob to say hello. Sometimes it's creating a drinking game to your favorite childhood movie, The Little Mermaid. Whatever 'it' is, we make it our own.

And of course, we fight. We fight like girls, but make up like boys. I love that about us. I like how after we've had one of our fights, one of us will say, "We good?" And that's that. Are we good? And the answer is always yes.

Tomorrow. You're going to be twenty-one years old tomorrow, LaChance. Twenty-one. I almost feel like I fell asleep on duty and just woke up to this, because I'm not ready for it. If you can turn twenty-one, then you can turn thirty. Thirty, like me. But not like me, in the ways that matter.

When you're happy, you shine so goddamn bright. Like you're going to shine tomorrow night. And I will wonder how in the world we ever got here.

21 comments:

Robbie Grey said...

"If you hurt her, buddy, I've got a shovel and a hundred acres that says nobody will ever miss you."

Having both a little sister and a daughter, I can totally identify with this.

The Phoenix Rising said...

I got the this in my guns rountine from my exwifes father... good times.

Penny Lane said...

Wow, this was really good. I felt every word of it, which is interesting because usually when I get to these mushy types of post I don't bother reading them, but this one pulled me in from the beginning.

I am 20 and I know what it is like to be just on the verge of a real person but quite not there yet. The feeling that when you turn 21 the whole world is going to change and someone is going to come along and say " Hey buddy, it's time to grow up now". So I am sure your sister is happy to have you here to be there and to say things like you have in this post.

Sharon Longworth said...

Oh my, that was stunning - what a lucky lady she is to have a sister who loves her so and can express that so eloquently. A beautiful piece of writing.

Nicole said...

This is wonderful. I'll be sharing it with my 17-year-old sister. I turned 34 last month. What you've written? I can feel this. I know this post. I live in it, too. So, thank you, from us---my sister and me---for speaking for us.

Harmony said...

"We fight like girls, but make up like boys ~ Perfect..reminds me of my sisters.

New to the blog and loved every word of this post.

Fortunes Fool said...

I absolutely LOVE your blog. You are a phenomenal writer and you evoke emotions in me that I didn't think I had anymore.

Keep writing! & Thank you for the comment! <3

-Fool
http://fourtunesfool.blogspot.com/

Shopgirl said...

I've always wanted a sister, a younger sister whom I can love, care for and boss around. Your story is the perfect vicarious experience for me. Just for the day, I got to peek into the joy and pangs of sisterhood. Well done.

bluzdude said...

Happy Birthday, Sally's Sister!

becca said...

great job

caterpillar said...

Brought tears to my eyes....reminded me of my baby sister...and a few things I've wanted to tell her....thank you...for the idea....a truly touching post...

NWO said...

Sweet. Very.

ladytruth said...

When I read this, I was having a jealous moment. My sister is eight years older than what I am, but we have never been as close as what you and your sister seem to be. She was out of the house when I was 10 and what I do remember are just bits and bobs of moments alone outside while she's doing her own thing inside. I envy your relationship, but at the same time I'm happy for you having such a great one. Your sister is really lucky having someone that always has her back. :)

slommler said...

What a treasured relationship. I don't have a sister or a daughter. But I have a DIL and four granddaughters and they light my world.
Happy Birthday to her!!! 21? Wow! I was there once. Ha!
Hugs
SueAnn

Steve Ballmer said...

Good blogging!

Philip said...

That was quite something. The swimming pool moment was brilliantly described. That image of her looking at you from under the water was right in front of my eyes.

The Lissst! said...

Wow. That's really good.
Retardo Montalbon. I'm gonna steal that.

Maria said...

i had a lump in my throat reading this letter. very touching. i have an older sister too, and i think our gap in age is same as yours and your sis. though my sis and i don't share the same closeness, we've are certainly closer than before. you're sister is one lucky girl to have you not only as a sibling but also a best friend. and you are equally lucky too!:)

Maryx said...

Wow. I'm left rather speechless. I felt this, too, even though I'm an only child and have no children yet... Thank you for sharing Sal!

My niece of 2 and a half drowned at the beginning of 2010. It is amazing how you could save your sister. Never take it for granted.

runawaybride said...

I really really loved this.. I'm saving it to send my sister when she is twenty one..

I simply love your writing...

otherworldlyone said...

This brought tears to my eyes. You and your sister are so lucky to have each other. It makes me sad for the things I never shared with my little sister...and still happy about the things I have.

Beautifully written - funny and heartfelt. You are so fucking brilliant.