She throws a tantrum. I yell right back at her. She scratches my face. I twist her nose and ear. She whines to our parents. I run like mad from Mom. Five minutes later, she’s back to tell me she loves me and she’ll miss me. My heart breaks and I have yet to leave. I realize my baby sister is going to be okay and I believe I’m going to be the best big sister ever—only, 1,000 miles away.
When I was younger and a lot more naive, all I ever wanted for my birthday, Christmas or those other gift-giving holidays was a baby sibling. Boy. Girl. It didn’t matter—my parents, or Santa, needed to go and buy that baby quick. For thirteen years, this was my wish, for thirteen years it never happened. I’d already given up when I applied to The Culver Academies—high school with a collegiate twist and boarding school campus. Located in the cornfields of Culver, Indiana, most people have no idea where to begin looking for it on a map. I got accepted, my mom got pregnant and my worrying began.
My little sister was born on March 12, 2002. I, the youngest of her three siblings, was going to be a freshman in high school the following year, which at that time it was only 300 miles away from our home in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I never thought to ask my parents what they were thinking—I finally had my little sister.
Nonetheless I worried and stressed. My parents were old, no actually they are old; I came to terms with this fact a few years after the gray hairs appeared on both of their heads. I suddenly found myself constantly imagining one of them breaking a hip while running after my sister. Work with me and imagine this: baby sister investigates the wonders-of-the-world on all fours, while Mom or Dad in a cartoon like fashion goes flying helplessly across the floor, with the help of a toy truck. Yeah. And let’s not mention how they were surely going to corrupt her with “old people things”. She wasn’t going to have any friends or at least not the sister-best-friend-friends that us older three had had while growing up. When my oldest sister moved out, I had my other sister, who went through elementary, middle, and now high school with me. Who was my little sister going to have? What kind of big sister could I be 300 miles away? And when I got back would she remember my name? Worst thought yet: would she hold any of this against me?
Five years and a family move to Lowell, Massachusetts later, I am now 1,000 miles away from my little sister for eight months out of the year. She visits me several times a year. She has earned the nickname, Mini-Bisi, from my friends and Mini-Me, from her greatest fan. Whether she earned that name because we look more alike than any of our other siblings (this being a feat as my second oldest sister and I spent a good year of high school passing as twins) or because she’s as vivacious and bull-headed as I am, I’m not sure.
I don’t worry anymore. She’s holding her own. You know those elementary boy bullies? One kicked her in the shins; she pushed him down. I am not condoning her actions (and neither did her teacher or my parents for that matter), but he doesn’t mess with her now. She hasn’t forgotten my name or my room telephone number, which she proceeds to call at 6AM sometimes. I taught her ABCs over the phone and how to count to 10, to avoid our sometimes tearful goodbyes. We’d sing the ABCs once, count to 10, say our Love You’s and hang up. And the best part—I’m the only person on campus that gets cheered up by well-meaning, sometimes incomprehensible, rambling messages from a four-year-old, who’s smart enough to dial 10 digits. I wonder who she learned that from?
So from all this what is it I believe? Well, I believe in the power of love to connect—no matter the circumstances, no matter the age, no matter what—the lives of those intended never to be apart.
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