Today my sister turns 30. I haven’t mentioned her very much in this blog. I could have said so much more about her. I should have said so much more about her.
My sister is amazing. At one point in my life she was everything I ever wanted to be. That’s a lie because in a way I still want to be like her.
Samantha is older than me, almost three whole years. She likes to tell this story about the day I was born. She normally starts it by saying “I knew it was bad news to have a new baby around because..” and then she continues to relate to the listener how she woke up to find herself abandoned, my parents gone and in their place, my grandmother sat smoking cigarettes. My sister, who at the time was two weeks shy of her third birthday, remembers this day as if it were yesterday. When my grandmother finally brought her to the hospital to meet me she was excited until it was time to leave. She was happily dancing in the hallway when the orderly wheeled my smiling mother out in a wheelchair holding me. The orderly accidently ran my sister’s foot over, and as my sister will tell you, no one stopped to comfort her. They all continued their walk down the hallway, my parents even stopped to yell back at her “Samantha, hurry up.” I, of course, do not remember this incident. My parent’s too, probably have blocked it out for obvious reasons, but my sister swears by it and I believe her. She has told me this story, with a bit of humor, and with a bit of sarcasm, my whole entire life.
Despite our horrible introduction we grew up close. That’s not to say we didn’t have our fights, believe me we have had many. I must admit that most of them were caused by my irrational behavior or habitual need to steal and “improve” her clothing. And by “improve” what I really mean is deface.
When we were very young we would spend hours in the basement playing Barbie’s together. She was my surrogate mother on Saturday’s when our mother was at work. On those days we would spend time with our father; going to Burger King to eat lunch and play in the Jester’s Courtyard, the adjoining arcade. I had a tendency, and still do, to spill ketchup on myself. She would clean me up. My father still talks about his feelings of frustration at that time and how his only sanity came from a young girl, my sister, who was always there helping to clean me off while gently telling me “it’s alright Kimmy.”
We spent summers swimming in the pool and choreographing synchronized swimming shows with our cousins, Lizzie and Cait. We went on vacations together to Wells Beach, ME; where we did silly things like tie our bicycles side by side at the wheels and try to ride them that way. She liked to sleep out while I hated to leave my mother. I missed her when she was gone. And I always felt abandoned. She would go to sleep at my grandmother’s for days on end – I always wanted to join, just to be with her, but could never muster up the courage.
As we got older things changed a bit. She was ready to leave our Barbie’s behind for hour long phone conversations with friends. I was jealous and from this jealousy I became a nuisance. Picking up the phone and listening in, sticking notes under the door while she was on it, and timing the phone calls so I could complain to my mother when she went over the limit – real irritating stuff. But I was lucky, no matter how much of an annoying little sister I was she always included me when her friends came over – I’m not sure if this was at my mother’s insistence or just her character. I like to think it was the latter.
Soon enough I also packed away the remainder of our barbie’s and a little bit of my annoying ways. And our relationship changed again. The fights weren’t about toys anymore but whose turn for the phone it was. We started talking about boys – the ones in my class, the ones I liked, the ones she liked, and which ones were losers. The regular teenage stuff. When my cousins came over instead of synchronized swimming Sam would do our make-up.
I can still remember with clarity the nights she would show up at the door to my bedroom and ask if I was still awake. We’d go lay in her bed with the intention of sleep, but what really happened was far different. We would stay up all night laughing until my father came to tell us to be quite. I miss those nights.
When I was in eighth grade I wrote my “Deptula Essay” about my sister. She was getting ready to leave for college in Ohio the next fall and I was heartbroken. She would be more than a ten hour drive away. I didn’t know what life would be like without her. I didn’t know what I would do when my parents were fighting. I didn’t know whose bed I could climb into anymore. I just plain didn’t know what I would do without her. And I didn’t want to know either.
The time inevitably came for her to leave and I cried the whole week before. I remember sitting in the living room that day. My whole family was gathered around to see her off. We were all just waiting for the moment when my father would be done packing up the car and he would come in to gather up my sister and take her out of our lives. To take her out of mine. Of course no matter how much of a distraction my cousins and I tried to make – Caitlin spent a full hour playing in the huge computer box – the predictable still came and my father took my sister away. I was lost without her. I don’t talk about it often, and I’m sure the only people who know this are my parents, but those first few nights I slept in her room alone. Utterly mislaid.
Time moved forward and I grew up even more. I had boyfriends and became interested in things that my sister wasn’t interested in and we grew apart, or maybe I fell apart. But either way it was different. We were different. Our relationship was fundamentally changed. There was still plenty of love, but not much of anything else. Not much of a friendship. And for awhile I thought it was a broken relationship, something never to be fixed. Something I didn’t know how to fix.
During this period, as an adult, I watched my sister in the role of “nurse” – never have I met a more compassionate person. I have witnessed many days when she came home in tears talking about a patient who was dying alone, or someone who was beyond help. She was abused by family members in despair. She was berated by rude people. She worked a thankless job. And all the while I wasn’t really there for her.
We played life on the outside as if we were just as close, but everyone knew we were not. I would still call her first, and she me, during major events in our life. And then, just last year my sister got engaged. She was to marry a man who compliments her character impeccably. They both have worked for the people, selflessly giving themselves for the betterment of others. They both have a great sense of humor. They were made for eachother. She asked me to be her maid-of-honor, a privilege I was sure was given to me because of our blood connection rather than anything else.
How wrong could I be? I realized over the many months spent helping her create and set up things for her big day that she had been sitting silently on the sidelines of my life; quietly cheering me on and waiting patiently for the day I would return to her. And, return I did. Everything is now as it should be, as it always should have been, as it was meant to be.
Over the years my sister has played many roles in my life she has been my sister, my teacher, my surrogate mother, my playmate, my cheerleader, my nemesis, and my biggest fan but mostly she has been my friend. My best friend.
And, maybe next time she tells the story about our first meeting she will start it off by saying “I thought having a baby sister was bad news because…” and end it with “how could I ever have been so wrong?”
Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Beautiful Samantha. Happy Birthday to you!! I love you and I hope the next 30 years are just as wonderful as the first!