My sister and I are 4.5 years apart in age, and while we are incredibly close now it wasn’t always so. I remember after she was born being genuinely disappointed that I didn’t have a brother, despite knowing the entire time that the baby in mommy’s tummy was a girl. We have proof via VHS tape that she drove me nuts with her incessant singing and dancing and wearing of all the dress-up clothes.
And the singing – OH THE SINGING – on long roadtrips to California during the obsessions with Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Salah, I love you more than I can say, but God definitely gifted you in different ways than those ladies. I’m just sayin’.
Somewhere during the teenage years I sent my sister to the hospital with a most embarrassing ailment that despite my best efforts still paints me out to be the jerk that I truly was. And it wasn’t until I started college, bereft of friends or bragging rights to advanced athletics, that I truly started to appreciate just what a sister is. I never cheered her on or supported her or was a loyal friend to her until I felt there was no one else. That is exactly when the stone was rolled away and I saw how very lucky I really got on that cold February morning you were born.
A sister is a built-in best friend, confidant, personal cheerleader, play buddy. She’s always there to tell you’re cool even when the world tells you differently. A sister shares her clothes and shoes and CDs, not to mention hopes and dreams and passions. She understands when you worry about family and prays for you daily. She stands up for you, believes in you, encourages you and inspires you. A sister is a friend for all eternity.
And you know what guys? My heart is sad that I missed that, although obtaining it incrementally, for almost 16 years.
I look at the woman I am today and I’m proud of who I am and where I’ve come; I realize that all those little things about Salah that drove me crazy are, and always have been, the things that I wished I could say about myself. She sang loud and proud and off-key with passion, she danced and flipped (sometimes gracefully, sometimes not) with excitement, she worked hard and determinedly at a sport she didn’t love, and she dove headfirst and skillfully into a sport she did. She trusted and loved and lived creatively the life set before her. She tried new things, and wasn’t discouraged when they didn’t work out, but was always thankful when they did. I do those things now, but most of my journey I just wished that I could be all the things that she is.
Salah, tomorrow you are starting off on this incredible gift of marriage, something that will grow you and stretch you and show you simultaneously the best and worst you can be. It will mold you more than anything that you’ve experienced so far, and I am so so so very proud of you. Not because you found a good man, although you did, and not because you got a pretty ring, because you did. No, sweet sister of mine, I am not proud of you for those things, but for all the things that you’ve been to me my entire life. In spite of my meanness and bossiness, even though I mother you when I’m not your mother. You have been all the things a sister is and then some: you have had faith when I would have had none and you love with your whole heart.
You are my sister, in blood and in Christ, and today I want nothing more than to raise a toast to you. May you always know how beautiful, inspiring, encouraging, loving, faithful, loyal, smart, hilarious and joyful you are.
I love you more than words,