People and Places (06/26/14)

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I love my sister
I remember the day my mother told me I was going to be a big sister. For most children, this would seem like an exciting revelation.
My 12-year-old self, however, was less than pleased. I had been the baby of my family, the youngest of three.
Lila, a healthy baby girl, arrived to this world on June 2, 2006. As any new parent or sibling can attest, there is nothing more beautiful or special than holding a newborn baby. I was scared at first by how small and fragile she looked. I didn’t want to hold her. I didn’t want to love her.
My resolve softened, and my unwillingness to hold her became a matter of not wanting to break her, not wanting anything in the whole world to hurt her. I fell in love with my baby sister the moment my mom handed her to me.
That same baby has since grown into an independent, smart, funny, kind and compassionate individual, who I am honored to call my sister.
Lila turned eight this month. This birthday, in particular, was a special landmark because she decided she wanted to go to Cliff’s amusement park and have a slumber party after with three of her friends from school. Before this, Lila had been content with small family parties, a day spent with us at home enjoying cake and playing with cousins in the backyard.
This time, however, there were serious arrangements to be made. The guest list was to be determined, limited to best friends only. Lila painstakingly narrowed the list down to six. Of the six little girls invited, three were able to make it and were appropriately ranked her best, best friends.
The preparations began; our older sister baked a cake and decorated it with snowflakes to pay homage to Lila’s current favorite movie, “Frozen.” The inflatable pool was filled and ready to go in the backyard, water pistols were purchased and transportation was arranged. Bright and early Saturday morning, my mom and stepdad loaded three giggling girls into the car and I watched as they headed to the park.
As I waited, I admit that I was sad. Not sad because I missed out on Cliff’s, but because my baby sister was growing up. When the girls finally returned home, we ate pepperoni pizza and the girls laughed and joked until they were ready for cake. As my mom readied the cake, frantically searching for eight candles, I got out my camera and started taking pictures of Lila and her friends seated around the kitchen table.
They made silly faces and held up moose antlers and bunny ears the whole while, though I managed to capture one photo with beautiful smiles and no extra ears.
There weren’t enough candles, so we decided to stick just one in the cake. Lila, happy to be surrounded by friends, didn’t mind. We sang “Happy Birthday” and she blew out a single birthday candle. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect moment.
In that same moment, I remembered how she felt as a baby in my arms like liquid and how it felt like she was a bowl of water filled to the top and I was trying my best not to spill any of her. I look at her now, all arms and legs running and jumping. It’s hard to believe she was ever small.
I can’t pretend that I don’t miss that baby, because I do. But this ever-growing girl who loves dinosaurs, running, reading, puppies and PBS shows has my heart.