Once upon a time, in the late winter, early spring of 1994, my father sat me down and told me that I was going to have a baby sister.
I was eight and, as a typical only child, I thought it was quite possibly the worst news I’d ever heard. Ever.
How on EARTH would I be able to share my dad, my toys, my life, the ATTENTION?!? I seriously needed all of the attention. And I didn’t know how to share. I was quite possibly the worst sharer EVER. You can ask my best friends who have picture evidence of me stealing their toys and calling them mine and not allowing them to play with their own toys.
So when my bouncing baby sister arrived in November of that year, I totally wasn’t ready to fall completely in love with her.
In fact, I was prepared to sell her on the street corner for a dollar. In my defense, back in 1994 you could have gotten A LOT with a dollar. So it would have been a great investment. Although, who are we kidding, I probably would have traded her for a Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Megazord.
But I couldn’t do it because I truly fell in love with her tiny, sweet little bald head.
And the coolest thing was that as she got older, she looked up to me and emulated my actions. She liked to draw because I liked to draw; she would constantly show me how well she could sketch and how perfectly she could color inside the lines. She listened to the same music that I listened to. The first “real” song she ever knew all the lyrics to was Blink 182’s “All the Small Things” and even at six years old, we would sing it together — censoring ourselves at the “work sucks” part because our dad hated the word “sucks.” We both went to our first concert together in 2001: Britney Spears’ Oops…I Did It Again tour. When it snowed, we built forts and igloos and snowmen and played elaborate make-believe games where we’d have a pet dragon and we had to battle evil fairies and the snow fort was our home base, where we were safe no matter what would happen.
Time passed and we got older, but the one thing that never changed was our relationship. She would come to me if she had a problem, and I was there for her through everything, no matter what. Overnight, playing pretend in snow forts turned into long car drives and conversations exhausting every single topic, from boys to family to friends to music to fashion to morals and ethics and presidential debates and everything in between.
I don’t quite know when it happened, but my sweet baby sister blossomed into a real person. She grew up, and was suddenly into boys and drinking and partying and couldn’t wait to just grow up.
I watched as she started to grow up, maybe a bit too fast for my taste. After all, I missed the little girl who would put barrettes in my hair and dance around the room to Janet Jackson and Gwen Stefani and Eve (“Let Me Blow Your Mind,” obviously) and sit in my lap and hug me fiercely. She still hugged me, but they were short and sporadic and lasted a split second because she was too old to be seen hugging her big bro.
But I was constantly surprised and, above all things, proud of who she was becoming. She was articulate, smart, and well-educated and informed. When I came out to her, she didn’t bat an eyelash. In fact, I think she said something to effect of “Um, duh,” and we quickly moved on. That’s just the type of awesome person she was turning into.
What’s truly remarkable is how close we have remained. Sure, we don’t live together – but we never did anyway – and we don’t see each other all the time anymore, but she knows that if she EVER needs me, I’d be there for her in a heartbeat. No questions asked.
And tomorrow she’s graduating from high school.
It’s very bittersweet, especially because in August, she’ll be moving to South Carolina for college.
I can’t even handle it.
Not because I’m sad, but because I’m so proud of her. For everything that we’ve gone through in our lives, with our family bullshit – gurl, don’t get me STARTED on the nonstop family BS – to everything else, she’s proven herself a survivor. Above all that, she’s her own person. She kicks ass, takes names, and doesn’t feel sorry for being strong. That’s admirable in my book.
And above wishing her congratulations, I want to tell her to
- Enjoy these moments. High school graduation, the summer before college…you never get these moments back again. Believe me, you’ll look back one day and wish you could go back to exactly this moment.
- Appreciate family time. We may be annoying, but once you’re at college, you’ll wish that you could have ten minutes of family time (that might be it, though ha).
- Live without regrets. Go after what you want and don’t let anyone ever hold you back.
- Remember to have fun, but not at the expense of an education.
- That said, you only go to college once. So HAVE FUN.
- Take time to appreciate small things like cloudless night skies filled with stars, and think about how infinite the universe is.
- Don’t lose contact with your high school friends. At least not the ones that matter.
- With that said, you’re going to lose contact with a lot of high school friends. The ones that matter will always somehow, in some way, be there. Embrace that, and understand that things won’t be the same, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
- Enjoy the next four years. Take lots of pictures. Make silly faces. Laugh. Truly laugh, and find people that make you laugh. Don’t surround yourself with people who make you cry.
- Look up from your cell phone every once in awhile and feel what it means to truly be alive.
- Never lose sight of your dreams.
Congratulations, little sister [and the Class of 2013!] I couldn’t be more proud of you…even if I’m sad that you’re all grown up, I’m impressed and proud of the person that you have become.