The Good Sister
When I was six years old I found out that my mom was pregnant with baby number 4. I was number 2 and had an older brother and a younger brother. Needless to say, I wanted a sister. Badly. I prayed every night for 9 months that baby number 4 would be a girl. I threatened to run away from home if it was a boy and had a bag packed and ready with an exit strategy in place. I was a resourceful six year old. Don't believe me? Just ask my mom and dad.
I can remember February 11, 1986 like it was yesterday. I remember what I wore to the hospital. A blue jean overall dress and my hair was a mess. I remember my dad holding me up to the glass to see my brand new baby sister who had a head full of black hair, which I remember thinking was odd. She was little and precious and perfect. I was so excited to have my very own crying, peeing, pooping, eating, and eventually talking, crawling, walking baby doll. My very own Suzie Baby, which we still call her today.
Growing up, Suzanne let me do pretty much whatever I wanted to with her. She was a mini me, but way cuter, better dressed and better hair. I often ask my mom why I look like a complete disaster in most of my childhood photos and she assures me it isn't because she didn't try to make me cute but rather I insisted on dressing myself and fixing (or lack there of) my own hair from the time I was three years old. I was difficult, but not Suzie. She was sweet and just went with the flow. I guess being the youngest of four can make you a rather laid back person. And she is.
Today, Suzanne is a mother and a wife. A daughter, a sister, a aunt and a friend. And she has taught me more about love and life than I ever thought possible. Especially since I was the one who taught her about the Birds and the Bees with a lovely little video titled "Where do babies come from." And I was the one who was there to talk her through her first heartbreak when she was in middle school. I taught her how to do a back handspring and how to peg your jeans. I was the big sister and I took that role very serious.
And I still do. But somewhere along the way she became the wiser one. The smarter one. The good one. And she started teaching me a thing or two about life.
Suzanne spent so much time wanting to be just like me growing up that she actually turned into the person I always wanted to be.
Thank God that somewhere along the way she stopped mimicking my every move. Luckily, she realizes that the grass is greener where you water it. She has always had an appreciation for what she's had in life. She has always been content in a way that I am finally figuring out and realizing the beauty and serenity that comes along with it. She doesn't care about material things. She has always worn her heart on her sleeve and been proud to show it. She cries when she's sad and laughs when she's happy and is unapologetic for both. She accepts help when she needs it and isn't afraid to ask. She is passionate about what and who she loves. She has always followed the beat of her own drum...or well, maybe it was our brother Will's beat, but she claimed it as her own. She is patient and sweet. The love and patience she shows with her children makes me think I would be a horrible mother. She is quite simply amazing to me.
Suzie Baby has just always had this ability to get life...know what's important and to cherish it. She takes pleasure in the small things because she knows that it's the small things that are really important.
Suzie Baby got the memo about living life on life's terms. I did not. Well, I probably got it but it must have been on the back of a cocktail napkin that I used to sit my wine glass on at a bar in San Francisco.
I always had to take the longer, harder, more difficult way. Which in my head was the more exciting... more adventurous route of life. I know now that is in fact not the case. Nothing was good enough. I always wanted bigger and better and more. I wanted more. Like that kid on the AT&T commercial. More of whatever it was. More was my drug of choice. Alcohol, guys, shoes, clothes, friends...whatever. You name it and I wanted more of it. But no matter how destructive my life got, she always put me on somewhat of an undeserving pedestal. And when alcoholism finally knocked my drunk butt right off that pedestal she was the first to pick me up and tell me it was going to be okay...and she'd be by my side every step of the way.
She actually got us matching teal converse, which is the color for addiction recovery, with a note that said, "I am so proud of you. I will be by your side every step of the way." Get it...shoes...step. And she meant it and for the past 32 months she has done just that!
I never felt like a failure in my sister's eyes. Probably because she never saw me as one. Today, she is my biggest cheerleader in recovery...and in life in general. I don't know how people get through life without a sister. I really don't. Recovery has given me the ability to see so many blessings that I was blind to before. The death of our brother, followed by my bottom that landed me in rehab and journey through recovery has brought us closer than I ever imagined. We love a little harder, forgive a little easier and say I love you a lot.
I can't say that has always been the case, but today it is, and for that I am grateful. I can't believe Suzie Baby is only 29 years old and has taught her big sister so much about life. And while I probably don't say it often enough...I am amazed by you, sweet sister. You are a blessing that I thank God for every single day.
Happy Birthday, Suzie Baby. I love you to the heavens and back!