What Are You Thankful For?

This week, I asked my friends and family what they were thankful for this Thanksgiving. There was one catch. They couldn’t say “friends and family.” Here’s what they came up with 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Advertisements

“A sister is…

“A sister is both your mirror — and your opposite.”~Elizabeth Fishel

Happy Birthday to the greatest little sister, Mazie Lee! 

20130706_105238

(Me and Mazie in 2004)

20130106_153707

(And this past winter 2013. We’ve certainly changed a little!)

The Mazie Days

When I moved in with my dad at ten years old, my little sister—who was four–stayed behind with my mom. My relationship with my mom wasn’t a good one after I left and because of that, I barely saw Mazie for the next few years. When I did see her however, we both knew that when I left, we wouldn’t know how long it would be till we saw each other again. I can still see her banging on the glass window by the front door, tears streaming down her face, begging me to stay. Hear her screaming and feel her tugging on my shirt late at night on the front stoop trying to bring me back inside.

Finally, after months and months of this irregularity, my grandparents intervened. A schedule was put together. Mazie and I would see each other every weekend at our grandparent’s house. I learned a lot about my sister in those weekends. I caught up on lost time.

20130706_105238

(Me and Mazie reunited)

It became obvious that she was pretty weird (read: unique). She could memorize everyone’s phone number by heart. Even people who would only call for our grandpa. She knew the order of the presidents backwards and forwards. She found humor in almost every situation. Her laughter was contagious. She could learn song lyrics after only hearing them once. She would spend hours singing and dancing in the living room, begging anyone and everyone to watch and listen at all times.

20130706_105113

(A picture’s worth a thousand words, right?)

We quickly became used to the routine of seeing each other. Neither of us cried when it came time to say goodbye. We knew it would only be a few short days until we’d see each other again. As the years passed and this routine solidified—heck, we even spent every school holiday and summer vacation together–it was almost like we forgot all the time we had spent apart.

Last year, our schedule changed. My mom, who has battled behavioral-emotional disorders her entire life, was severely struggling. It became apparent that she couldn’t care for Mazie the way that she wanted and the way Mazie needed. Mazie moved in with my grandparents and me.

But I’ve been away at school this past year. I haven’t seen Mazie as much as usual. I went months without seeing her just like when I was in middle school. Except this time, it didn’t feel so bad. I knew with certainty that I would see her when I returned.

20130106_153707

(Mazie and I on our winter break)

Now, Mazie’s thirteen years old. To fill her time, she mostly plays on her Nook (which she promised she would read books on but I’m pretty sure she’s only watched YouTube videos on), eats junk food, or hangs around me asking every five seconds what I’m doing and where I’m going–when most of the time I’m just walking up or down stairs. I try not to let it bother me, but sometimes it gets on my last nerve to be asked where I’m going when I open the bathroom door. Sometimes, she’ll ask to sleep in my bed just to be close. I usually say no. Who wants to share a nice big comfy bed with their little sister who steals the covers?

But the other night after writing about May (https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-month-of-maying/) I was feeling pretty down. So when she hinted at staying with me for the night, I couldn’t stop myself from asking, “You wanna sleep with me tonight?”

Her face lit up. “Yes!”

As I brushed my teeth, Mazie called to me from my bedroom. “Hey Abbey! I found something to keep me occupied.”

I spit in the sink. “Oh, really? What’s that?”

“Looking at myself in the mirror.”

I finished up in the bathroom and went in my room where she lay sprawled across my bed with a small mirror in her hand, staring at herself.

Since I write in my journal (yes, I write even more than on here; it’s really problematic) and read before bed, I decided to let Mazie listen to my iPod. That way, her inner narcissist would be stamped out and I would get a little silence to focus on the words on the pages.

As we sat next to each other, me scribbling in my notebook, her wearing gigantic headphones over her ears, I started to hear her little voice slip out lines from the song she was listening to. It was like traveling back in time when she was just a single digit girl, when her voice was just as small as her stature.

It’s hard to express what this moment meant to me. As she switched songs, she smiled and sang along as if I wasn’t even sitting there. As if she didn’t even realize the words were escaping her mouth. It was a moment of pure childhood innocence and reminded me of all the reasons I love her.

When we shut the light, she held my hand.

Dear Little Sister

Dear Little Sister,

I was six when we met. It was a gray September day, a mist of rain suspended in the air. Arriving at the hospital with Grandma and Grandpa I imagined what it would be like seeing you for the first time. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that by the time I went home that night, I’d have a playmate for the rest of my life. I imagined all the things that we would do. I could teach you how to swing the highest on the playground (my greatest accomplishment so far); I could teach you the alphabet; I could teach you how to ride a bike with no training wheels; and most importantly, I could teach you how to get mom to let you have ice cream in the middle of a hot summer’s day. Walking down the hospital corridor my heart fluttered in my chest at the realm of possibilities that awaited us. And even though you were just a ball of wrinkly pink flesh with two blue eyes peering up at me, the first time I held you in my arms I knew that you were mine. And I felt a love I had never felt before. A sister’s love.

Your first year of life was filled with discovery. You found toes at the ends of your feet and wisps of blonde hair on the top of your head. You became an expert at finding my toys and putting them in your mouth. You experienced ketchup for the first time, most of it ending up on your face rather than in your mouth. You learned that pulling my hair was a great form of entertainment. And finally, you learned to sit up and hold your own bottle.

By five, your feathered blond hair had grown into a full head of thick, dirty blond hair that almost reached your butt. You insisted on pigtails each day that sat high on either side of your head and you always wore little gold hoops in your still delicate ears. This year you learned that you could do things yourself and that you could make your own decisions. And you proved it when you cut your own bangs so close to your hairline that it took a year for them to grow back to a reasonable length.

At ten, your features, once soft and delicate, became sharp and more defined. You grew out of your pigtails and after a haircut that left you unable to make a ponytail, you began your quest to grow your hair as long as possible (that is still going on today, three years later). You found an outlet in performing by putting on singing and dancing shows for anyone that would watch. You began to observe me and imitate the things I did. You learned my favorite bands and learned the words to my favorite songs just to impress me. You started to express your feelings through writing and it wasn’t unusual for me to find little notes shoved under my bedroom door or on the kitchen table that said how much you loved me. I’ve saved them all.

And now that you’re thirteen and entering adolescence, I see you turning into a young woman. You’re starting to wear makeup and listen to your own styles of music. You have your own friends and I’m no longer the coolest person you know but just your older, annoying sister who drives you crazy. And I’m perfectly happy with that. Because I know that people will walk in and out of our lives for as long as we live, but we will always be sisters and we will always have each other.

The next few years of your life will be strange as you leave behind childhood and enter your teenage years. But Little Sister, please remember this: You are not just the sum of your parts. You are worth more than the size of your jeans or the length of your hair or the shape of your nose or the clothes that you wear. You are beautiful in every way, no matter what anyone tells you. You have the potential to be anything you want to be and I can only hope that you will believe in yourself as much as I believe in you. No matter what anyone says, remember that you have everything you need within yourself. And when you need a reminder, I will be there to tell you just how wonderful, talented, intelligent, and beautiful you are. No matter how many times we may argue, you must know that our love is unequivocal. You are my little sister and I will take care of you as long as you let me.

When you get your first A+ on an algebra test, I’ll be the one to tape it on the fridge. When you finish reading your first full-length novel, I’ll be the one waiting to talk to you about it. When you get your heart broken for the first time, I’ll be there with lots of ice cream ready to watch any movie you name.  When it’s time to go to college, I’ll be there to help you decide. When you get your own place, I’ll help you paint it colors of all different shades. When it’s time to prepare for your first official job, I’ll make sure to practice interviews with you every day. And when you get that promotion I’ll be there to take you out to a celebratory dinner. I could go on and on. There is so much life left in us and I want to share it with you.

And when we’re old and gray I want to live side-by-side so we can sit on my wrap-around porch talking about the things we did when we were young. I promise you that by then, our age difference won’t seem as big as it does now.

You’re my little love, Little Sister.

Always,

Your Older Sister