20th September 2015
To My Little Sister.
My sister Bethany and our cat Furball in the early noughties
One of my earliest memories of my sister and I involves me trying to be the hero older sibling and ending up crying in a slide. A bit of anti-climax, but it is a story that is filled with love and humour. Our parents had dropped us off at one of those supermarket crèches (they were a big deal in the 90s) so that they could do a bit of shopping without three annoying kids hanging off the trolley and running around leaving disaster and mayhem in their wake. I was the typical middle child, an introvert with a passion for reading and a need for my own space and I wasn’t all that fussed about the little rosy cheeked angel that had stolen my place as baby of the family. I remember climbing to a corner of the playroom where I could sit by myself while the assistants cooed over her and helped her play with all the toys. I can’t tell you how long I sat alone before I heard a familiar wail fill the room and I instantly recognised it as my sister crying. It was like an alarm that suddenly set big sister instincts into motion and an alien feeling of anger and love started to flow through. I was enraged at the very thought that someone would want to upset her, so I climbed down from where I was sat and marched over to hug her and wipe the tears from her blotchy red cheeks. I turned to the assistant that had made her cry and very sternly told her not to be mean to my baby sister. She was annoying and I would get so irritated with her, but no one was allowed to make her cry! It was then that I was very promptly told off for being rude and although I tried to stay tough, I unfortunately reverted back to being the sensitive little soul that I truly was. My anger quickly evaporated and I burst into tears and ran off to sit in the slide and stay away from the mean lady that had managed to make two children cry that day. Good one. My sister slowly came to join me and I cuddled her as I told myself that it was my job to look after this little bundle of tears and snot no matter what. In fact, it was my duty.
There have been times over the years where that story has come to the forefront of my memories as I have honoured my pact with myself over and over again. Whether it was warning the bratty and sour mouthed girl at school to back off or taking my sister into the safety of my student house, an hour away, when she was scared and upset. No matter the situation, I always come back to that moment. You are probably wondering why I am taking you on a trip down memory lane, right? Well as I am writing this, I am sat in the comfort of my living room after a long day of driving that once little-bundle-of-tears-and-snot, three hours away to start her first year of university. It’s been an odd day to say the least and I’m sure that any older sibling can understand the thoughts that plague you when your little sibling is all grown up and suddenly out of reach. There’s been varied emotions of highs and lows and although it may seem slightly dramatic, I can assure you that it is totally justified.
I am going to miss her.
Sure she’s still in the same country as me and sure it’s only three hours away (three long hours), but it’s not that I won’t be seeing her as often anymore that bothers me, it’s that I won’t be right at her side when something is wrong. It’s that she is grown up and living independently, finding herself in a brand new journey all on her own. Ultimately, it’s that she doesn’t need my protection anymore. Sisters have this uncanny bond that means we always know when we need the other. We can fight and scrap and yet still we find comfort and love in one another when we really need it and I have always been close by to make sure that she knows that. It’s a scary and unnerving thought to know that I have to pass over my big sister duties to the close companions she will make whilst she is out living her life and preparing for her future. But I have to let some of that protectiveness go, she isn’t my little bundle anymore.
So to my beautiful little sister, who is now a three hour car journey away and who is starting her life in the big wide world, I wanted to say this –
I am proud of you. I am so proud and so filled with love and admiration that you are following your dreams and I know you will succeed! It’s a tough old world out there and independence really is a gift that you shouldn’t squander. Find yourself, find your story! Have fun and meet people, go out and be daring and make silly little mistakes you’ll forget about in a year. Have your highs and your lows as each year is different and filled with new experiences. But most of all, remember that I am still here, I am your sister and I love you. I didn’t mean to make you cry again as I tearfully left you today in your new home with your new friends. My tears were only in part of sadness as I recognised the tiny bit of fear in your face of being left alone, as well as mourning for our days as little girls playing with our dolls in our room we shared. But they were mostly of happiness for you and what you have achieved.
The house will be quiet now as the sounds of us bickering over clothes and minor nuisances are long gone and there will be a part of me that wishes my baby sister was only in the room next door. But I look forward to us reprising our roles as squabbling siblings when you visit home and I look forward to the stories you will tell! And I promise you that whenever you need someone to listen, a shoulder to cry on or a familiar face around, I am there for you. Call me.
I can’t promise you that I won’t be stealing the clothes that you left here though. What? You did it to me!