Today is the birthday of my sister, she who inherited the cheekbones, the thick, dark hair with the well-defined widow’s peak, and various other features that have always aroused my envy. Along with my daughters, she’s my best friend in the world, and so I will confess here, publicly, that I didn’t always know she’d grow up to be that. And I wasn't always nice to her.
For the same stupid reasons most brothers or sisters engage in childish combat, we fought, too. We battled about toys and clothes that needed sharing, chores that needed doing, privileges that were granted unfairly to one of us and not the other, and, most of all, for our mother’s attention. At least once, I've learned, we must have fought about tissue.
My advantage during our fights was that I was older, bigger and stronger. My sister's advantage was that because I was older, bigger and stronger, most of the blame for our confrontations fell on me. Each of us felt unfairly disadvantaged by the other's position.
We fought for 14 years. Although there are photos of us in which we appear kind, loving, sweet and angelic, both of us agree that those pictures were probably staged.
On the day I married, when I was 18 and my sister was 14, I said goodbye to my family and prepared to leave for my new home, which was several hours away. My sister cried. That was the first time I had an inkling that she might like me in spite of our differences, and I was deeply touched.
Since then, my love for my sister has grown and grown until now my heart swells at the sound of her voice. She shares my family, my history, and my future. We've learned, through the years, that we are alike in so many more ways than we are different, and I don't know what I'd do without her.
On the occasion of her birthday, I’d like to apologize to her for hateful words, painful slaps, and every unhappy tear I may have caused her to shed. I can say I'm sorry now, not because I’m older, wiser, or (finally) a better person than I was then, but because I've uncovered proof of at least one time when my sister may have been as unreasonable as I so often was.
This twice-folded piece of paper (digitally scribbled just now for the sake of privacy) was tucked in the back of my baby book:
This is the backside:
I assume there was Kleenex folded into my sister's note at the time of it's delivery, because the note reads as follows:
I have no idea how I reacted the first time I saw this letter, but it gives me a great deal of pleasure to see it now.
I'm pretty sure you know it already, Sis, but I don't hate you either. In fact, I'll love you always. Happy birthday.