In December I got an early Christmas present.
I had wondered if I might.
On Friday, December 20, 2012, I found out that I was going to be an aunt. My sister was going to have a baby!
I was filled with joy and excitement and couldn't wait to share the news. But with strict instructions to keep quiet for a while longer, I held my tongue and let the realization of this life changing moment bounce around in my head.
As I went to bed that night I felt as if I was having past life moments flash before my eyes. Life moments shared with my sister.
I remembered vividly the day in 5th grade when I was called to the office for a phone call. My mom, who was expecting, had been taken to the hospital with hives the night before. Although I had months of excitement leading up to the arrival of my new brother or sister, I had often joked, being a ten year old, only child, that I wanted the baby to be a boy so I wouldn't have "to share my toys"....
I remembered going to the phone and answering with a "Hello?". It was then that I heard my dad's voice say, "Kim? Looks like you are going to have to share your toys!" I knew then that I was a big sister....with a little sister.
That day was the first and only time that I received flowers/balloons from my parents at school. I felt proud having the bouquet sit on my desk and I was excited to share with anyone that would listen the big news. That night, before going to meet the newest member of our family, dad took me to pick out Sarah's coming home outfit that she would wear.
I remembered seeing her. My sister. My only sibling.
From a young age I remember having a hard time with change, but I don't remember an ounce of worry over the addition to our family.
She was mine....
Although my sister, I always felt as if she were mine.
The next flashback was of Sarah as a child about 4 or 5. She was my shadow. She wanted to be wherever I was. She followed me. She imitated me. When around my friends I acted like it annoyed me.
But it didn't.
When she looked at me it was as if she thought that I could do anything. I remembered her crawling in bed with me to sleep beside me.
She thought I gave her courage.
I knew the truth.
She gave ME courage. She made me want to be the person she thought I was.
I remembered the teenage school drama with friends, and feuds with parents, and feeling as if the world was against me, but hearing her tiny voice and feeling her affection for me would soothe my heart and make me ready to face the next day.
I remembered a night that Steven had been at our house working for my dad, hauling hay. I was 16 years old and thought that he hung the moon. I had harbored a crush on him for years and had admired him in secret while he was working on our farm for my dad.
That night, when everyone had came in from the field to eat supper, a neighbor had showed up.
The neighbor continued to visit with dad and Steven was needing to return to the field to bring in the rest of the equipment. Dad looked at me and said, "Kim, why don't you run Steven out to the field so that he can get the tractor?"
Most girls would have jumped at the chance to have the guy of their dreams all to themselves. But instead, I took Sarah with me, my 5 year old sister, because, this time, I was the one that needed courage....
I remembered spending days talking with Sarah. This time about her friends at school, and nights talking about her grades and her struggles with classes and parents.
I was her biggest advocate, as she was mine.
I remembered cheering her on at sports and loving watching her grow.
I remembered being in college and having classes that got out at noon. I decided that I would take my 10 year old sister to class with me and then to free ride day at the fair. When getting ready to leave the house, Sarah came out and had on the same denim shorts, old navy t-shirt and white Ked shoes as I had on.
And I didn't make her change.
I loved that she loved me.
I remembered times she stayed with Steven and I, going to rodeos with us on the weekend, and taking her to school during the week.
I remembered dancing with her in our living room, laughing with her over something silly we had done and crying with her over the trials that adolescence and life brings us.
In the last few years my fierce maternal love for her has expanded to a friendship.
She's my best friend.
And the ten year age gap has seemed non-existent.
However, the news of the baby brought the age difference very much to light. The age difference in Sarah's baby and my L will be only one month different than the age difference between Sarah and myself.
As I laid there in bed with the house quiet, I took in the news and thought about our life with this new little one...and how much love we have to share. I thought about our blessings and how blessed this child will be.
I thought about "fun uncle Steven" and the trouble that he will get into with this child.
I thought about B, and how he would finally get his wish to have a "real first cousin!".
I thought about L, and how, just like I did with Sarah, she will mother this baby.
And then I realized, that much like myself many years ago, L will be hitting the awkward teen years when the baby is at the pinnacle of cuteness. L will be the one dating when the baby is only 5 or 6 years old. L will be the one graduating when the baby is just starting school.
All of a sudden I had another measurement of time.....one that is set apart from my own children. You see, I have frozen them in time, refusing to see them as anything other than my babies. But in comparison to the baby that is on its way.....they are anything but. All of a sudden I could see all too clearly just how much they have grown....and how fast.
Tears filled my eyes and my heart ached. I cursed the passage of time and the seasons of life. My mind raced and I could no longer lie in bed.
I climbed out of bed and went first into L's room. She was asleep and laying in bed and for the first time in a while it became blantantly obvious how tall she had gotten and how much she had grown. Without waking her I crawled in and laid beside her. I scooted her body closer to mine and whispered against her forehead that I loved her. And then the flashbacks I had were of her....
When I felt completely raw I climbed out of her room and went into B's. Standing in the doorway I marveled that although two years younger, he was almost as tall as his sister. I went to his bed and laid down next to his warm body. I rubbed my hand through his hair and whispered endearments against his ear. This time, I thought of him and moments of his life...from the moment he was born, to the moment I was in.
The mental race I had been running had left me tired enough to sleep and I finally returned to my bed. As I fell to sleep I thought all of the love that I have for my children and how it has changed me.
As did the love that I have for my sister and have had for her since the day she was born.
I hope I am able to return to my sister all the courage that she has given me throughout the years. Motherhood is the most wondrous thing, I have ever experienced....but it isn't for the faint of heart.
It is a mirror to all your strengths and weaknesses.
It makes you feel a vast array of emotions....all within the same context.
It is a testament to our mortality and immortality.
It makes you afraid, and it makes you fearless.
It makes you weak, and then gives you strength.