Remember when it was just us? Just us Donnelley girls? Remember that time before boys and babies and big responsibilities? Remember when we all slept in that big green room with the balance beam, your balance beam, running its length? Remember when I locked you in the bathroom and made you sing as song to your crush? Remember when we sat on the floor and sifted through Halloween candy while the humpback sang upstairs? Remember when we visited Penny Land in the big, black shower? Remember when we wrote letters to Santa and tried to hear little hooves on Christmas Eve? Remember banging pots and pans on New Year's Eve and dying eggs on Easter?
Remember when you dropped me at college and then came to visit? Remember when I dropped you at college and then came to visit? Remember when we wandered the streets of New Haven, a swirl of blonde and black, arms linked, laughing, the future ahead and oh so bright?
Remember when you were my maid of honor and zipped me into the big satin dress with the kissing birds on its back? Remember when we danced to We Are Family under the big Blue Whale? Remember when I was your matron of honor and I stood there in the sun-soaked airport, that field full of love and tiny bugs as Dad walked you down the aisle toward me? Remember when we danced that night, and smiled, and pretended? Remember that July morning when we gathered and propped each other up and whispered that final goodbye?
Remember when you visited when I had my first baby and then I visited you when you had your first baby? Remember when I had my second and third? Remember when you had your second, just one month ago?
Remember when I said to you: This is hard. I am having a hard time with this? Remember when you said to me: This is hard. I am having a hard time with this? Remember all those lunches and manicures and glasses of wine? Remember the fits of laughter and the ponds of tears? Remember all the conversations, long and layered, winding and beautiful, about childhood and life and love, and loss?
Remember yesterday? We had lunch with the kids. We sat at a big booth. We ordered food and sodas and we ate and we talked. We cut food into small bites as we looked at each other, locking tired, Dad blue eyes, and took turns. We took turns talking about our days. Listen to my day, I said. Listen to my day, you said. And we did. We listened. We traded bits of ourselves, of who we have become. As we were leaving the restaurant, hefting our strollers down the steps to the sidewalk, I asked you a question.
Hypothetically, if I were to write you a blog birthday letter, can I mention that you are moving?
And you said yes. It was a quiet yes, but it was a yes. I could mention it. And here I am, doing just that. And as I write this, my eyes water because this is becoming quite real, isn't it? You are leaving me, and us, and this city that has raised us and made us, in a matter of months. And I know that it is more that you are going than leaving, more that you are growing, that this is what is good for you and your family. I know these things and I am doing the best I can to accept them, these things, these complicated things.
But the truth? The truth is that there are times when I wish we could go back. To the simpler times, the times of just us, the moments of childhood when we were still young and protected and together. To the time before little creatures and big choices. The truth is that I miss you already. Our moments, our lunches, the tangle of the everyday. I know that we will figure this out, this distance that looms. Maybe we will carve out mandatory phone dates and book frequent sister weekends. Maybe we will write old school letters on yellow legal paper with Parker pens. Maybe we will become email aficionados, scribbling long and lovely stories on our respective screens. I don't know. But we will figure it out, right?
Today you are thirty. And you are some thirty-year-old - downright gorgeous, smarter than I'll ever dream of being, wildly thoughtful, full of love.
One day in the not-too-distant future we will have a new slew of Remember Whens.
Remember when you turned thirty and were about to move to Charleston and I was a bit dramatic and undone and wrote you that sappy birthday letter? Remember when our kids were itty-bitty and we were so overwhelmed and so in love with them, these little creatures? Remember when we came up with all those ideas and inventions? Remember when we played my cat-your cat? Remember when?
The point, C, is that my memories include you. And they always will. Whether we are in our thirties or in our nineties, looking back. Whether you are in New York or South Carolina or Zimbabwe.
I hope you are having a good day, C. I hope you realize how loved you are. By them, by us. By me.
Happy birthday, sis.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
Take a moment and wish my sis a happy day (or convince her to stay in NYC!) Do you live close to your siblings, and other family? Any sage tips on how to stay super close despite the miles? How did you celebrate your 30th or most recent big birthday?