Six and a Half (Almost Seven) Degrees of Separation

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I remember begging my parents for a little sister like a child begs for that puppy in the window. I wanted one so badly. I wanted company and I guess my imaginary friends were just not enough anymore. Finally, after six and a half (almost seven) years of begging I got a little baby sister (at least that’s how I figured I got what I wanted). Just as with the puppy, you don’t realize the responsibility until you actually get it home and live with it for a little while.

As we grew up, our six and a half (almost seven) year age difference became this enormous chasm between us. She was … well … (if anyone out there has a younger sibling several years younger than you, you know what she was) … a royal pest! I began to detest this little being who had invaded my picture perfect only child life. Oh, and of course, to add insult to injury, it didn’t help at all that the little twerp was perfect! She was athletic, she got good grades, and she captivated attention every where she went. Not to mention I had to share everything from toys to favorite relatives with her. Gone were the days when I was the cute and clever one. This silly little girl who refused to match her clothes or comb her hair took over. I counted the days, hours, minutes, and seconds to high school graduation when it was off to college in North Carolina and freedom from that little thorn in my side. After college, I vowed to never move back home and so I kept going … settling in Atlanta Georgia. I never looked back.

Every summer break (when I was in school) and holidays when I came home, Kelly was different. The first year or so, not much because she was still a little kid and still a royal pain in the “you know what.” She was always wanting to go with me everywhere, picking up the phone during my conversations with my friends, etc. Then one summer, it all somehow changed. She changed. She wasn’t the same. She was tall …very leggy and, well to be honest, quite beautiful. There was a young woman standing in front of me that I absolutely did not recognize. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Kelly grew up and I missed it. I didn’t even know who she was. I missed everything … her first kiss, her prom, her first break up, her first failed exam, her first “A” in a hard class … every major life event that a little sister would need her big sister for (or at least would have liked to have her big sister for), I missed. All I had in my head all those years was the ten year old pest I left behind when I went off to school. It never occurred to me she would change … and for the better.

At that time, it also dawned on me that she didn’t know me either. She had no idea what I was doing (or not doing) in college … in my life. Not only did I miss all of her “firsts,” she missed a lot of mine too. Oh what a wealth of wisdom she could have had if I gave her even the tiniest glimpse into my life—my first real boyfriend, my “first time,” my first college roommate disaster, my first road trip with my friends, my first real heartbreak. We could have experienced emerging into womanhood together. I began to feel as if I had let us both down. I robbed us of one of the most important bonds women can ever have … genuine biological sisterhood.

Now she was graduating from high school and going off to college. She too was counting the days, hours, minutes, and seconds to her emancipation and I so saw myself in her. She was without me during one of the most crucial times in a young girl’s life but she was not going to be alone for the next tier of the journey: college … and beyond. I made a silent pact with myself that I would always be there for her no matter how many miles are between us.

These days, via phone lines, cyberspace, and occasional airports, we are connected. We share every aspect of each other’s lives and the Grand Canyon sized chasm that once separated our lives is merely a crack in the sidewalk now. As each other’s maid of honor (she at my wedding six and a half almost seven) years ago and me at her wedding in June 2006) we toasted our brothers in law, charging them with our care, and letting them know they are the luckiest men on earth because they get to be with us every day. My little sister, Kelly … the sibling I always wanted, never knew I needed, and absolutely will never be able to live without.


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