My big sis is petite, standing three inches shorter than me. It wasn't always that way, of course. There was a time when I was smaller, another lifetime ago it seems.
She and I have almost always gotten along with each other, but we haven't always been friends. I think as a little girl, three and a half years younger, I seemed more like a nuisance much of the time than anything else. I wanted her to like me. I wanted to be like her. But I was the little sister who lovingly terrorized her favorite cat, who wanted to borrow her toys and her clothes, who'd sit in her room with eyes begging for her to pay attention to me when she just wanted some privacy, who'd grab the attention of the camera or her friends, who'd pretend to hear creepy noises at night when she was babysitting me. I was that sister.
On some rare occasion, my little-sisterness worked to my advantage in her eyes. Like the time a boy who liked her in high school showed up at the house and she just wanted him to get lost but couldn't tell him that. She came to me, a little desperate, asking me to do something, anything, to distract him, maybe even drive him away. I eagerly agreed, running up to him and yanking him by the arm to the front yard. I strapped on my metal framed roller skates, the old school ones, and proceeded to do cartwheels and various versions of gymnastics across the front yard. He watched with a polite smile stretched tightly across his face, glancing nervously over his shoulder toward the house. After maybe ten minutes of this show, he must have excused himself, told my sister goodbye, and gotten the heck out of there. I remember my sister hugging me, so grateful, and feeling a rush of satisfaction that I'd been able to help her out.
And then I entered high school and she started college and life in our family was all jumbled up, like a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. That's when we became friends. I remember us starting to share clothes because we wanted to, going shopping together, talking about life together. I sensed her protectiveness and it was new to me and I loved it.
I was never the real mushy-gushy one in the family. It was Mom and sometimes sis who cried at Hallmark commercials and cheesy tv programs, not me. I swore I'd never cry at a wedding. But standing in the doorway of the church on my sister's wedding day, I turned around to give her one last look before I walked down the aisle. There she was, a glowing vision of white, her brown curls and big Bambi eyes locking with mine, holding onto Papa's arm. Before I knew it, my eyes were puddles and it was like all the years of our childhood flashed before my eyes, pausing on this moment, on my beautiful grown up sister in her wedding gown. I felt more love in that moment than I knew what to do with.
Eleven years, the births of two adorable children, the loss of our Papa and the celebration of many milestones have passed since that day. Time and laughter and tears and hours of listening and venting and sharing have grown us up into the kind of friends I always hoped we'd be. I still look up to my sister. I still want to be like her in many ways, and yet I appreciate our differences. I respect her and she respects me. When I'm with her, I feel as comfortable as I am when I'm alone, saying little at times and chattering nonstop at other times. We store each other's memories, as far back as each of us can remember, and that is something no other friendship can experience.
I love you, sister sally sassy sue. There can be no other you. Happy birthday.