My dad likes to make a joke "We should have stopped at one." Usually this is reserved for when my much younger siblings -- Julia, age 21, and Jared, age 18 -- slip up. But if he had "stopped at one" I would not have DeAnna in my life. At one point I used to laugh and hold up my finger in solidarity. But as I have grown closer to DeAnna, I have started to correct him. "No...though maybe two."
Because I cannot imagine a life without DeAnna in it.
Today is my sister's 31st birthday, which means it has been 31 years since I became an older sister. I am 33 years old myself, which means there are only two and a half years of my life that I have spent without a sibling in it. I cannot remember life as an only child because it was so brief and I was so young.
As far as I am concerned, my sister has always been there, even sometimes when I wish she hadn't. I can definitely remember times I was hateful or mean to her -- whether verbally to her face or secretly in my diary I kept as a child. We bickered and argued a lot growing up. I found her annoying and completely different from me. She was interested in boys, in makeup, in dance, in family and being social. In my mind, she was always the more mature one and perhaps I resented her for that. After all, wasn't I supposed to be the older sister? Often when people met us, they assumed she was the older one due to her personality, poise, and general presentation.
I've learned to let a lot of that go. Those memories are faded and distant, mere shades to the bigger picture that has become our relationship over the years. Especially when compared to the memories that helped forge our sisterhood. We have a number of shared experiences, having grown up together, and that makes for a strong bond.
We may not have always had the same interests, but there were many times we were forced into the same hobbies: piano lessons, dance recitals, and any number of family trips were done together. Summers were spent under the care of our grandparents and while we had very different friend groups any time we weren't in school we were stuck with each other. Up until my junior year of high school we even always went to the same school together -- sharing not just bus rides, but bus seats as we made our way home. We learned to bake together. We prepared meals and cleaned house together. We ventured onto roller coasters and into the pool together. We broke our parents' rules together and proceeded to vent or gripe about our parents' together too. For awhile, after we gained more siblings and before we moved houses, we even shared a room together.
And until very recently we at least shared the same state, but now she lives in Florida while I have stayed in Arkansas. We are no longer together like we were, our lives so different now from where they started, but that's part of growing up. At least, thanks to technology and a strong foundation, we have not grown apart.
Today marks the 31st anniversary of my becoming a big sister. Happy Birthday, DeAnna. I'm glad we didn't stop at one.
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