Baby sister no more, and yet always

I remember the first day of December, eighteen years ago. It was a soft, snowy morning on our farm on the western edge of Minnesota, and my two sisters and I had finished feeding the goats and chickens, and had somehow wandered down to the end of our short driveway, where we were engaged in a playful fight with quick-packed balls of the wet, heavy new-fallen snow. We were ostensibly watching for the arrival of our chiropractor, delayed by the weather, but we had mostly forgotten about that after a few minutes of joyful squeals.

Then dad’s voice rang out across the silent yard.

“If you want to see this baby born, you better get in here now!”

Oh, things were happening fast! We wallowed across the snowy yard, tumbled into the house, and—no doubt leaving our winter clothes is a tangle heap in the porch—we quietly piled into Mom and Dad’s tiny bedroom which was today the birth room. And it was not long at all before a tiny new sister slid into the morning light and into our lives.

We had a special bond (I think) all the years I was still home. There are a great many pictures of the grinning teenage Me with an equally-grinning wee sister in my arms: “My two ends” our mother always called us fondly. I walked her to sleep for her naps, often to the soundtrack of the boisterous Russian classical music I was so fond of in those days, or the jaunty Beatles songs I was just then discovering (or The King’s Singers’ covers thereof). One of her first words was “Help!” to request the song of the same name.

And then off I went to college, and I never came back. Not to stay, anyway. She has grown up a great deal since then. Her experience of being a homeschooled teenager has been very different from mine, probably inevitably. She is a very talented musician and dancer, although I have almost no firsthand knowledge of her impressive performative virtuosity, since my adult life has kept me largely far away in recent years from the exciting events back at my family seat. I have missed out.

And now she is eighteen, getting ready to leave the house herself very soon, just as I did back when she was just mastering the ability to form whole sentences. Dance through life with confidence, Littlest Sis. You will be awesome.

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