I clutched tightly to my Aunty Lone’s hand as we crossed the pedestrian walk from the car park to the hospital. The mint green cardigan my grandmother had hand-crocheted for me kept out the late autumn breeze. As we walked through the entrance I didn’t notice anything but the big blush pink desk of the nurse’s station. I was only three though, so my view point was a little limited.
I didn’t care. There was only one thing I wanted.
23 years and about 9 months ago I asked Mum and Dad for a present. The best present I was ever going to get: a baby brother or sister.
I waited, and waited.
Mum and Dad let me choose your name. I was so perplexed. I loved the name Sarah, but I had a doll named Sarah. Then there was always Penny, my favourite character on ‘Little People’. No, it had to be something really special. Something that I would always remember – Jessica after my favourite grown-up on TV: Jessica Fletcher.
I watched Mum’s belly grow larger and larger. I watched Dumbo with her and touched the shadows of your hands and feet as you reached out to touch only the skin that separated us.
Then, you were here.
My baby sister.
So perfect. So pretty. The biggest sky-blue eyes and the softest blonde hair.
You had the cheekiest grin – the devil himself couldn’t beat that smirk you had even as a little girl.
Then you would switch and your little forehead would crinkle and crunch as you concentrated on something – so serious, so business like straight away.
I idolised you. I still do in many ways. You were the walking embodiment of perfection on earth. The best present. My best friend. My baby sister.
I crowded you, I still do. I can’t help it, you are the thing that sits the closest to the heart within my heart.
People say they can see the resemblance between the two of us. Maybe it’s the smile, (we both know it’s that ahem…nose), or maybe it’s the way we both cock our head when we are trying to figure something out (look I understand that ‘black’ mascara is a totally different shade to ‘very black’), or maybe it’s the naughty look we both get on our faces when we lick the bowl.
For years as a teenager and a young woman I wanted to look like you. I wanted to be you. Baby sister you move through the world with an impact that belies your petite stature and small gnome-y hands. You seemed to face any problem with a ferocity of intelligence way beyond the grasp of us normal humans. You still do. Only now that I am older I know that your carefully constructed façade sometimes hides a woman who is crumbling like a cookie inside.
Let me be there for you the way you are always there for me.
Every time I have fallen, every time I have been smashed to smithereens on the rocky ledge of life, every time my bridges have burnt at my feet and scorched my toes – you have been there. You have fished me out of the deepest chasms of my soul. Been the candle in my darkest night. Been the balm to soothe my scabs, and told me just how beautiful my scars are.
You are the hardest working woman I know. People often think that you have had such a lucky life, but those who are closest to you know the truth: when you decide what you want in your life you work to make it happen. Every dream that has come true for you has been born from blood, sweat, and tears. You are the brave young thing. The bright young thing. You are the woman who is not afraid to go after what she wants. Whether it is the man you love or a home of your own I have watched you fight for what your heart desires. You deserve your dreams darling because you work so hard for them.
I love you Jess / chicken / Jec / boob (don’t ask). You are the sprinkles on top of my cupcake. The Romy to my Michelle. The Splenda in my cup of tea. You are the sparkliest piece of soul I could have ever hoped for cast into the sky to shine brightly into my life. I am so heart-bursting-at-the-seams proud of you.
You are my sister. My mentor. My partner in teasing Mum/Dad/Grace. My Christmas tree light detangling companion. The other half of the sing-along to every Britney song duo.
You are the only one I want to watch ‘In Her Shoes’ with because you get that sometimes I’m Maggie and I need you to be my Rose and tell me to get my stuff together. You are the one I look up to. We both know who the real older sister is in this relationship.
You are my little sister. The best present anyone ever gave me. I am grateful for you.
Happy birthday Jec, and here is to many, many more.
(P.S. I love you)