Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dear Janie

Today, you turned 19.

On this day, in 1989, Joey and I were dragged upstairs to our parent's bed (most reluctantly, might I add). I remember not wanting to go. I remember wondering what all the commotion was about. I remember that I wanted to stay up and be a part of the fun.

Fun, indeed.

"Wake me up when the baby is born!" I demanded

Does it shock you that I also remember what dress I was wearing that day?
Yeah, I didn't think so either (it was the gray one with the pink sash, in case you were curious)

And then, several hours later, I was dragged back down the stairs, into what is now (or was, really) our bedroom, and rubbing my eyes while the doctor estimated your weight by balancing you on a beach towel. Those crazy homeopaths...
Then he handed you to Mom, and Daddy took me by the hand and lead me over the the side of the bed, pointed to the pink, squishy, screaming lump in her arms and said, "That's your new sister. Her name is Jane."
But I already had an aunt named Jane.
"It's okay. Now we have two Janes."
TWO Janes?
It was going to take some time for me to wrap my head around THAT concept.

But I was still overwhelmed by the magic of it all.
There had only been two of us when I had gone to sleep.
And then I woke up, only to find that there were now three.
There was another girl. Another little person to play with my Barbies and wear my clothes and sing songs with me and dance in the living room. We would be exactly the same.
Because we were sisters.
And that's what sisters do.

Except, it didn't turn out quite like that.

19 years later, you and I are different in almost every way possible.
And yet, I don't feel entirely complete when I'm not with you.
When I'm the only Sullivan girl around, I have to maintain a calm, levelheaded persona. I have to be serious. I have to be responsible. What other choice do I have?
When we're together, you're laid-back attitude allows me to be the exuberant, flighty, fantastical one. You're the one who stays objective, while my head wanders above the clouds. And yet, you always pull me back down to Earth.
That's how we work, you and I.

Does it seem like you're the older sister sometimes?
Because you're so responsible and hardworking and calm? And I'm, well, not?
I hope not.

I wish you knew how proud I am of you.
I wish you knew how proud I have always been, and will always be.
I wish that you could see what the rest of us see when they look at you, and all that you've
accomplished in your short life.

I wish you knew how beautiful you are.
I wish you knew how smart you are.
I wish you knew how funny you are.

When I turned 19, I felt that it was a little anti-climactic.
I mean, 19? What's so special about that.
In fact, it made me feel old (which makes me laugh now, five years later, because if that logic works, than I'm a senior citizen).
But, regardless of whether or not it makes sense now, it sure did make me feel like that was it. That my life had reached a plateau.
Janie, listen to your big sister: do not feel this way.
There is so much beauty in this big old world.
Please, please remember that.
There is so much to experience, so much to see and hear and taste and breathe.

Remember Stockholm and London? Remember riding horses in Indiana? Remember standing on a mountain in Texas, and building a house in Mexico? Remember singing The Dixie Chicks in the middle of a snowstorm? Remember reading Chicken Soup for the Soul in the car on Christmas day aloud, and we all burst into tears?
What about the time that I was pushing you in the shopping cart in the grocery store and I crashed you into a display of hot fudge sauce in glass bottles?
Or the time you fell out of your bed to the ground six feet below, only to land on your dollhouse and I didn't even wake up?*

*That last part is not so much an example of beauty, but more one that makes me giggle.

You add to the brilliance and intellect of this world with each day that you spend in it.
I know that you will continue to do so for the rest of your life.
Because, you don't know how to live any other way.
You don't know how NOT play like you're in the big leagues.
Do you think other people are jealous that I get to have a sister like you?
I bet they are.
Especially since their lives are better for having lived in the same universe as someone so intelligent, so giving, so open-minded, and so loving.
But I get to share a bedroom with you sometimes.
Not to mention DNA.

Even with your sometimes crazy-Medusa hair (relax, I said sometimes), and your swarms of imaginary friends, and your cleanliness O.C.D. (I did mention how different we are, right?) and your snoring...
You're a ray of light.

Being your sister has been, is, and always will be an adventure.
A joy.
A miracle.

Happy Birthday, Janie Marie.
I love you.

Your Sissy


VintageMagnolia said...

I want you to be MY sister, so you'll write me things like that on my birthday. Seriously *tear*

Nada Nada said...

Just you wait till YOUR birthday, Alabama.
Just you wait.

Anonymous said...

I SO did NOT want to like you but this post is just too awesome!

Nada Nada said...

I think?

As VintageMagnolia would say, "The power of my prose has calmed this sleeping dragon."

Something like that.

I'm glad you decided to not NOT like me. At least for as long as it took you to read the entry.