37 years ago tomorrow, a little girl came into the world. She showed up two months before she was supposed to and there was a good chance that she may not have grown to see her first birthday. But grow she did, and it wasn't long before she was home with her mom, dad and big sister. This was my little sister, Deni.
She didn't have it easy, having me for a big sister. I wanted her as a doll when she was really little. I remember my mom telling a story of finding me in the playpen with her, my arms around her neck "hugging" her and while he body kind of hung there. I couldn't have been more than a couple years old at the time. I just wanted to show her I loved her.
And then there was the time that I got into Mom's make-up and turned both of us into clowns.
Or the time that I got Mom's scissors and played stylist. I made a disaster of her hair, and just before she was ready to return the favor, Mom came in and caught us. There were several months where Mom had to correct everyone that said she had such a cute little boy.
I had a hard time controlling my temper when I was younger, and I'm honestly surprised that I didn't manage to kill her. I'm even more surprised that she still talks to me.
But even if I made her life a bit rough, I wouldn't let anyone else. When she was in kindergarten, I got into it with a little boy in her class that was picking on her. The boy hit me, but I didn't care. I was protecting Deni. And that's what was important. I might be able to pick on her, but no one else could.
And it wasn't always bad. I still remember days of playing on our property - we were running through a hidden passage in a castle; we were part of the Duke family; we made snow angels; we played softball or soccer. Before she started school, I tried to teach her how to read. As we got a little older, we would talk about various things in the room that we shared. She was my sister and I loved her.
When I was 15 and she was 13, I moved from living with her and my mom to live with my Dad. And for the longest time, she was stuck as a 13 year old in my mind. It didn't matter that I saw her every summer. She was still 13 so she couldn't date, couldn't graduate high school, couldn't drink or smoke, couldn't go to college, couldn't get married... She was my little sister and she wasn't old enough for that!
But somehow, the years have caught up. Maybe it's the fact that she's been an editor at the paper she works at for 17 years (I think). Maybe it's the fact that she's been married for over 11 years. Maybe it's the fact that she has two kids. Maybe I'm just growing up too. But I'm no longer in denial regarding her age. She's not 13. She's 37.
We may not be as close as some siblings are. Some of it is our personalities - Deni's more contained and I'm more erratic. Some of it is the fact that we weren't really teens together. But it doesn't matter how close we are. She's still my sister. We can pick up the phone and talk for an hour or more. We can sit and chat over coffee when one or the other of us visits the area. I know that I can ask her for advice on things, and I think she knows the reverse is true. And as we get older, we're finding that we're more alike than either of us would have ever thought possible.
There are a few things I don't know if I tell her often enough. I love you. I'm proud of you. I'm glad that you're my little sister. And I wish I lived closer to we could see each other more often.
Happy birthday, Kiddo.