I still remember as kids and holding you down to smell your forehead demanding you still smelled like a newborn. You hated and loved it all at the same time. One of the best things about being the oldest has always just been being YOUR older sister. You have gone from being a pale, blue-ish green (true your eye color changes) eyed baby to a respected enlisted Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. You now tower over me. But let's not let your manly height, rank and muscle-ey shape fool anyone, I would still hold you down demanding you were still like a baby to me!
Phone calls have always triggered memories for me, especially when missing you.
Our family made a life changing decision to move from Minnesota after you were born, so then half my family, including me and you, moved to North Carolina. It altered my life.
Ring…..ring….ring…. a static “hello…” from your little boy high pitched voice being delivered a thousand miles or more in an instant were often the first moments of an exciting connection I would look forward to while we grew up in the 90’s- so very far apart.
Most weeks of the year, except the summer and holiday breaks we were together. Phone calls were held in high regards, as it was equal to what most considered spending “family time” together from states away. Unfortunately long distance calls were very expensive then and even a call was a luxury we couldn’t afford for more than a few short minutes. We would write letters. I wrote you your own hand-made series of books with illustrations because you liked to read and I was an artist.
For those numbered days, like summer break, Christmas, Easter- days expected to be “whole” within families always felt incomplete. I missed my brother.
Your little boy voice still on the other end of the line still felt weighted with the distance I so longed to pull closer as you told me what you and your friends did in the tree fort we built.
Sure, most days I complained you smelled like boy sweat, but it was three weeks into my eight week summer break in Minnesota and I had so much to tell you and I wanted to know if you had messed in any of my stuff. You quickly reminded me you were sleeping in my bed while I was gone and not bathing on purpose and wearing my favorite penguin nightgown. I was 7 and you were 4, or maybe you were 7 and I was 11. The same phone call could be held for all those ages. That was our summers, letters and long distant calls.
Holidays have remained the hardest. I remember our NC family traveled to MN for Christmas and they were fighting as to where I was spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I didn't want to choose, or fight. I just sobbed. I remember sitting in the backseat of the car with our parents fighting and you reached over and held my hand and told me it didn’t matter to you because we always get to be together.
When our family made another big decision to move back to Minnesota when I was 18, I was heart broken and torn again. Ultimately, I stayed in the south because I was in love. You moved to Minnesota - back home. I was so happy you were in a good school with family and I knew you were going to like it. I was gong to miss you, and our memories in the house we grew up in. I cannot remember the last long car trip 24 hours to Minnesota. I wish I could because I would save it like so many days I took for granted. Days before our lives started us growing up.
Time flew, you graduated and I was there for it. I was so proud. You were headed to a good college.
I missed your college life, except for the phone calls… I cherished the phone calls.
Ring…ring…ring… “Ye-ellow”, it was a favorite way to answer the phone. The distance was still there even with the upgrade to cell phones, over the past decade it at least made calls more frequent.
This is how I found out you were going to propose, you did propose, and then wedding planning came. I saw you the week of your wedding and when I saw you in the parking lot I felt like years had gone by and this little boy I begged not to come in my room without a password was getting married. It was a surprising feeling, how much I missed out on Daniel. But gosh I was so happy for you, for you and Mandy. It has been the best thing you have accomplished so far.
I just couldn’t believe how fast the last 4 years had flown by.
You called agin when you were deciding on joining the Navy. You joined. I tried to fill as many sarcastic, loving, sisterly letters as I could in during boot camp. I hope they made you laugh.
Even now Holidays have always are tough. Something mainly my husband harbors the weight for me so I can force a smile and enjoy the blessings in front of me.
Living next door to his parents, the same street he has always lived on - his entire life with the same two parents and sisters had given his outlook on life way different than mine. For someone clueless to why I felt the way I do on missing family he tries REALLY hard (because he usually appreciates the space when there is any). I build up and let out my heavy heart until I feel weightless and after 12 years he listens, holds me, lets me cry it out. Every year. It’s the phone calls. I have always held on to the phone calls. Always waiting for the next. I love getting a phone call.
I am the oldest sibling. Missing parts of my younger siblings lives leaves static and disconnected lines. I did plenty growing up to shelter you, keep things I wanted you innocent from. I still doubt you can imagine most. I feel (as a mother to three) the next closest thing that comes even close to motherhood is the love that comes from being your older sister.
Lately, I have realized you grew up… and I am so proud of who you are..
One year we shared a room, a bed, jammies, and the school bus. Then one day we started sleeping in our own rooms. We still shared the same tree fort. Then I started middle school one day we were only sharing the couch after school, ate weird snacks on the kitchen floor and made fun of each other. When I wasn’t aware we were sharing the same land line, you would pipe in at the most embarrassing moments making middle school that much more awkward. Days passed like this and without us even realizing it, we were growing up.
Then life happened really damn fast.
I don't remember the day you moved. I just remember feeling like there were plenty of options of where I could be and I felt like crying again, only I couldn’t tell you. I was too old for you to hold my hand. You were starting a really good life and I was too, we were just going to be far away...again.
Ring…ring…ring… “Ye-ellow”, you told me the Navy was moving you to Charleston, SC. “That’s only 4 hours away!” I was the happiest sister.
My husband and I did something new this Thanksgiving. We took our kids to Charleston for Thanksgiving. It was so good. I was so thankful for this Thanksgiving. Daniel, you told me you had never heard anyone say “uncle Daniel, uncle Daniel” so many times in your life. If I could put in words the beaming from my heart when you said that.
For now, less dial tones and more being together. 4 hours is close from what we were used to. Seeing you and Mandy more while you are based in Charleston is my goal. We don't know where you will go next. But for now, sandy days in the sun on the beach are a luxury. Who knows, maybe Zack, the kids and I will get travel the world thanks to the Navy...and you.
Until I see you again, pick up your phone and call me. I can't wait to hear how your day was.