So…I had no idea that yesterday was National Sibling Day til Wednesday’s blog post was already up. So forgive me for posting this late, but I couldn’t let the opportunity to post this go by! I LOVE sharing this very personal story and think it’s perfect to share in honor of National Sibling Day.
My sister and I are close in age (about 20 months apart, me being the older) so we were very close growing up. Since our family moved a lot, the four of us were a tight knit group and my sister and I basically did everything together. Yeah, might have been bickering, tattling, (cough, not me, cough), and of course, fights (and in some cases even hair pulling and bleeding!), but we always shared a close relationship and a special bond I feel like only sisters can really share. We ate our meals together, watched tv together, did homework side by side, and spent a lot of time playing “babies”. Our “babies” were a group of six stuffed animals and dolls…I had three “kids” named Monkey, Emily, and Amy and my sister had Tiger, Buttercup, and Sarah. Oh you don’t think it gets weirder than that? HAHA. Our other imaginary “mom friends” were all characters from Xmen. Yes, you read that right. Don’t judge!
Eventually we grew out of boy bands, “babies” and weekends spent watching cartoons and we traded in our Barbie dolls for driving around in my sister’s little white truck. We still pretty much did everything together and though back then it was kind of something we almost did by default, those days are some of my favorite memories. My sister was always there for me. And though sometimes I wasn’t as grateful for her as I should have been, I did my best to be there for her too. In those times, growing up, I needed her. And she needed me.
Photos from left to right, top to bottom: Christmas 1989, Chattanooga, TN sometime in the 90s, King’s Island Mason, OH, my sister’s birthday, 1992.
A few years later I had moved out of our parents home and gotten engaged. When I started thinking about my bridal party there was no question in my mind about who my maid of honor would be. It would be my sister. Duh. After the world’s longest engagement, the year of the wedding finally rolled around and I got some news that at first I didn’t know how to deal with…My sister had decided to join the Army. I was so proud of her, but it was hard to not think about the fact that her basic training was going to end a week before the wedding meaning she would be 1,600 miles away at AIT and not able to fly home. I took it hard. I took her leaving hard. I’m HORRIBLE at goodbyes, even if they’re only for a little while. I chalk it up to abandonment issues, but for whatever reason, I was legitimately depressed when she left. I wrote letters every day…even a letter from the cat because I couldn’t bear for there to be a day where the mail came and she was the only soldier who didn’t get a letter.
Over that last few months of my engagement and her boot camp a lot of things went through my mind, including whether or not her not being there was a sign that I shouldn’t be getting married. I say I don’t really believe in signs, but I do believe that things usually work out the way they are supposed to. I couldn’t figure out why things were supposed to work out to where one of the only people I truly trust wasn’t going to be able to be at my wedding. I was young. Only 23 at the time and sure in my heart that if it was meant to be, my sister should be there.
Boot camp graduation was the week before the wedding. I went with my family to South Carolina. I cried a lot. I was so happy to see my sister, and so proud I couldn’t really even begin to describe it. But I was also incredibly sad that I was going to have to say goodbye again and not see her next week on what was the biggest day yet of my 23 years. I also really struggled with the idea that my little sister who I always want to protect would be using guns and could go to a war. She is so strong and fearless and brave and I felt so weak and sad. This is still something that I think I struggle with. That I can’t really protect her. To be honest, I’m not sure if I ever really did. I know I’m older, but for a lot of our lives it’s like she’s been taking care of me.
The next week (the week of the WEDDING!!) I was actually too busy to spend much too time dwelling on it. That was a good thing. And I had kind of resigned myself to the fact that things were the way they were and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Maybe I was in denial though, because two days before the wedding it started hitting me hard. We were arranging flowers and she called to ask how things were going and I finally realized if she was coming, she would be leaving now. So that was it. She wasn’t going to be there. I cried at least twice the day of the rehearsal. We were getting our nails done and I got a little weepy. And then I was sitting there at lunch with my friends and thinking how much fun she would be having if she had been able to be there. And I cried then too. I was probably the saddest bride anyone had ever seen! Poor John.
The worst was actually AT our rehearsal. Our officiant wasn’t aware of the situation and as we were rehearsing, she kept asking me where the maid of honor was. I heard myself say “She’s not here” for like the millionth time before I totally started bawling. Like Kim Kardashian ugly crying. It was gross. Again, poor John! His fiance was flat out sobbing at his wedding rehearsal…and not happy tears! I was so happy to be marrying him, but I couldn’t stop feeling sad. I know that is not rational, but I wasn’t thinking like a normal person. My sister not being there for this important day really made me feel like something was missing. My sister is not just my sister. She is not just a family member or a friend. She’s a part of me. Sometimes I question things in life, like how I got to be here, was I meant to be adopted, etc…but somewhere within me I know that my sister and I were meant to be sisters.
I don’t really remember the rest of our rehearsal. I do remember my friends riding with me to the rehearsal dinner and talking A LOT. Probably to get my mind off of my outburst at the rehearsal. And to cheer me up. We got to the restaurant and they bought me a Blue Moon (my favorite) to cheer me up and I started to act like a normal person again. After that, things started happening so fast. My dad came over and told me my sister had called to talk to me. He said he’d let me take the phone outside, probably figuring I wouldn’t want to cry again in front of everyone and embarrass myself. HAHA.
When I got outside, I put the phone to my ear and said “Hello, hello?”. Assuming the call was lost, I just handed my dad his phone and said I guess she’d call back later. I was disappointed, but I knew she didn’t really have that much time to talk on the phone anyway. Before I could even complete my thought, I heard my dad saying well that’s because she’s here! And my sister literally RAN OUT FROM BEHIND A CORNER and hugged me for what was both the longest and shortest time ever. It was seriously the happiest moment of my life. The relief I felt was huge. I don’t know how to explain how much this meant to me except to tell you that I couldn’t even write this paragraph without tearing up like a baby. (Can you tell I cry a lot???)
Later I came to find out exactly how hard my family worked to get her home. They were working on it all week and no one even whispered the possibility out loud to me because they didn’t want me to find out and then have their plan fall through. Imagine the double devastation! My dad called my sister’s captain and somehow the person who first said no was on vacation and the other person said yes. They pooled their money to pay for the last minute (I’m talking I’m-at-the-airport-now last minute) plane ticket and got her home just in time. The night before the wedding we slept in her old room in my parents house and though it didn’t feel like when we were kids, it felt just right. Instead of serving her Maid of Honor duties (she didn’t have a dress), she read a poem at the ceremony instead. We all cried. Are you noticing a trend? HAHA.
People ask me if my tattoo is for my husband, which is the logical assumption since the ee cummings’ poem was read at our wedding ceremony. The answer is yes and no. Because I also meant it to be for my sister, who is such a part of me that I carry her with me no matter where I go.
Wedding photos by the fab Jodi and Kurt of Jodi Miller of Photography. All others are personal photos.