While serving in Baghdad ER, I got a phone call from my mother.
(I cannot even go into how we were able to receive international calls at war in Iraq. Apparently you could dial a phone number with an American area code and reach us). Anyway, my mother called me one night I was on night shift and it was day time in the states.
“Guess what.. Your sister is pregnant.” very flat, kind of mad. It was almost like our roles were switched, she was tattling on my kid sister, and I was expected to duel out the punishment.
“Hello…?” She probed me for an answer. Then it came time to react. In a split second I had to decide that if no one, including my mother, was going to be happy and supportive of my sister, it was left to me.
“THAT’S AWESOME!!! OMG!” She was 17, in high school, and the only kid left at home. Thankfully she had finally grown out of that annoying little sister phase, and was now beating me at becoming a mother. Through the coming months I did what I could to be supportive. I bought her nursery furniture, bedding, baby books, work out videos, pretty much anything I could do to make up for not physically being there to support her.
Years passed and her little boy grew like a weed. I had no idea what my little sister was going through and was very insensitive to her worries and struggles as a mother. It did not make sense why it was such a big deal for my friend, who she had never met, to watch her son overnight so we could party all night. I did not understand the insecurities of her new body. She remained meek and humored me. In retrospect, I was an asshole that did not know any better, nor did I make any attempt at understanding how so immediately she was torn from her adolescence.
With news of her second baby, I prepared a large ensemble of little girl gifts, packed them up, and sent them to New Orleans. Weeks later, I had my own news. I was expecting my first baby only three months after my sister. In early September Hurricane Isaac took out the power to her home and everyone worried the levies would break again.
“I don’t care. I’ll drive down there pregnant as shit and save you!” I meant it. I could not imagine my sister giving birth in her home without power unable to get to the hospital. They eventually evacuated to safety to ride out the storm. Weeks later her little miss was born happy and healthy.
I visited my sister and met her new bundle and learned everything I possibly could about being a mom. All the things I should have been able to teach my kid sister, she was taking me to class and schooling me well. Even with my own set of complications, everything I learned in that week I continue to practice today.
Now our kids are growing. My sister might have gotten a late start in the work force, but she is navigating it with grace while raising good little humans that will grow into successful members of society. I am so incredibly proud my my sister. She is my best friend and does not live nearly close enough. I don’t even think next door would be close enough. She’s picked me off the floor when I thought I was done with it all. She’s seen me cry ugly and hid her laughter until she knew it was safe. She respects me and validates my opinions even if hers are different. She is the strongest and hardest working woman I know, but she would call me stupid and tell me that I am.
Thank you for having such a beautiful heart and always searching for peace despite all the shit you’ve been through. You always strive to better yourself so that you can lift up those around you.
Happy Birthday, Sister.