A letter to my sister

Today is our 37th birthday. Although we only actually spent twelve of those birthdays together, I still feel the day is ours. After all, thirty seven years ago today we were dragged into the world, you and I, fifteen minutes apart, and eight weeks early. Tiny, scrawny little things, both of us, but you always stressed that you were the older. ‘Those fifteen minutes makes all the difference Bec,’ you’d say wisely as you pulled rank and directed me in every single game. We shared each one of those first twelve birthdays – in every photo we’re side by side, blowing out candles, holding hands, dressed up to the nines in those ridiculous velvet dresses that little girls wore in the 80s. By our thirteenth birthday, you were gone, but this day still belongs to both of us.
In twenty five years, I’ve become a different person. Without you, I survived secondary school. (Why did you never tell me that I couldn’t depend on you for ever? I thought I would always have you, so friends were incidental. That was a mistake the day I returned to school,) I went to university. (You would have had a ball. A total ball. Glasgow may not have been ready for it, but you would have ruled the place) I got married. (Bren would have made you laugh, and you would approve of how he loves me – he looks after me in your absence) I became a teacher. (You’d have made a great teacher – You were always far kinder and more patient than me – remember that primary school teacher who said I needed to learn to have patience with people less quick witted than myself? Yeah, that still rankles) I’ve lost Mum. (I missed you then, more than ever before) And I’ve had my children.
It’s here that I feel the greatest sense of loss on your behalf. You would have had children by now – you always wanted to do things first. You’d probably have three or four – you never did things by half. And I feel such grief and injustice that you never got this bit – this pure, relentless, crushing, unending joy of motherhood. For this is the best bit, and you will never see it.
I see you in my children. I see a ghost of your cheeky, charming, sweet grin in Ella’s smile and in the soft curve of her cheek as she turns towards me. I see a glimpse of your puzzled, patient expression as Noah thinks carefully, and in the way he rests his chin upon his hand, considering, I see your free, bright joy in the way Ella twirls across the room, dancing to a song only she can hear, and in the easy way she loves and is loved. And I see us both, the ghosts of those little twin girls, all those years ago, in the way they play just the way we did, lost in our own imaginary world and needing only each other.
Happy 37th birthday, my beautiful sister. I’m honoured to share it with you.

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6 thoughts on “A letter to my sister

  1. Oh Rebecca! I thought I would read your blog as a little study break reward after a few hours of assignment planning! So beautifully written. Your love for your sister shines through your words. What a mix of emotions the day must be for you each year, especially now with a gorgeous, loving young family who will simply want to make Mummy’s Birthday lovely whilst you must have a head full of so many memories both happy and sad. Keep writing! xx

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