Ever since I can remember I have identified myself as, a sister. I have always been and will always be the little sister. If you know me well, you’ve heard me speak about my sister, Debbie. She has always been my role model, my mentor, and now my very close friend.
When we were younger I was given a private nickname, the pest. Does anyone remember the book, “The Pain and The Great One?” Oh, my mom loved to read that book to me. I was totally the little brother character, but obviously with a girly flair. Everything that Debbie attempted I was sure to follow, copy, or annoy. She’d get a red backpack for school, I wanted a red backpack. She loved dolphins, I loved dolphins too! She’d drum a rhythm on the table, I was right there rat-a-tat-tatting along the way. I absolutely adored her and everything that she did, with the exception of the occasional door slam and me sliding a note under said door with backwards letters and lots of hearts drawn all over it…
Growing up having a wonderful role model and sibling ten years my senior gave me a multitude of opportunities. I always had someone to lean on, to present my questions to, to giggle with about memories and to share our secret language of sign and eye gestures.
I’m not sure if she remembers this, but here goes…
Upon entering middle or high school…with both, I was utterly petrified. I was sheltered, quiet, and small. Debbie was an adult living on her own, and working. Though, she still had time for her little sister. She’d write me letters, (which I still have all of…) and she’d talk to me on the phone. She created this special little calligraphy name sheet with our little symbol drawings we’d end each letter with, adorned on the sheet. I kept that sheet and used it on every single binder I used. I laminated it with those cheap-o sticker sheets and it is still around somewhere in my office today. Anyway, the point of this random story is this; she always found a way to make me feel special and loved. She makes everyone she works with or is friends with feel this way, in one way or another.
There is something so uniquely special about having a sister or sibling for that matter. You’re bonded on this level of always knowing that there is someone else out there in the world, no matter your differences, that will always “get” or understand you and love you unconditionally. I remember looking at a photograph of us on her high school graduation day, and years later looking upon mine and thinking how lucky I was to have a sister like her. Cut now to side by side wedding photos, and then Declan’s birthday. The memories are endless.
I always feel a little bit stronger, a little bit cooler, and a little bit more whole as a person, when I have her by my side. I’m so proud of her for adventuring across the sea to a foreign land to pursue her passion abroad. I admire her courage to battle this disease and trek forward with her head lifted high. I know she doesn’t see it, but she is and always has been an inspiration, at least for this little sister.
Today I went running on the Oregon coast and I stopped and watched the waves roll in and out. I thought to myself that this ocean is the only constant entity separating us. Most definitely thousands of miles of separation, yes, minor detail, but that ocean made me feel a tiny bit closer to her.
When someone you love so dearly is hurting, all you want to do is remove that pain and make everything ok. Having this occur multiple times in one year has been really, really trying. I know it’s not me going through this pain, but I feel at a loss as to what I can do to help. So here I sit, behind these words, and I write a little to ease the ache. I ran today for me and for her. I ran the first two miles at the fastest pace I have ever run before, and they were, cathartic. Traversing up that sandy hill, digging my feet into the grainy earth was a sort of metaphor for this part in our lives…
Sand or cells crumbling around us, the feeling of unsteadiness beneath our feet, the constant upward battle of a hill with shifting sides, and the unending length that crashes into the sea.
I know one thing is for sure, if it would help to give her a kidney or a rib, I’d be right there, and I know she feels the same. Tomorrow is a new day; it has hope and opportunity for growth, for change, and for traversing the next hill. Sitting on the side lines and watching it all unfold is absolutely heart wrenching, but it is necessary to show that I am here, no matter what, and I’ll be right here still.