The greatest gift my parents ever gave me was my sister Stephanie. I didn’t always think this of course -- in fact, one of my earliest memories was of my sister breaking my favorite doll. And then there were covers she stole in the middle of the night in our shared bed. And later there were the clothes she borrowed and didn’t return. But then again, I wasn’t the best sister to her either. Apparently, when we were young, I told her that the crows flying over us would swoop down and carry her away if she wasn’t careful. This instilled in her an unreasonable fear of crows that has carried into her adult years. (Sorry Sis).
But somewhere along the way, I realized that my sister was absolutely essential to my life. Maybe it was after she was in a minor biking accident when we were young that this became clear.
Stephie was 7 or 8 and had been riding her bike up and down our street when she fell and hit her head (this was before the days of helmets). I heard that she had been hurt and ran down the street to see my dad carrying her up to our house. I remember that she looked really pale and kept asking what day it was -- and I remember being scared that she was really hurt. I think that is the first time in my young life that the concept of losing someone I loved ever crossed my mind. I remember the dreamlike quality of that moment and the tightening of my stomach and the pounding of my heart. I just wanted her to be OK. Sure she was an annoying little sister, but she was MY annoying little sister and besides, sometimes she was really funny...and she was always happy...and sometimes she shared things...and sometimes I did too...and it was kinda fun that mom would dress us in matching dresses and pajamas (and anything else she could get to match)...and she would play “school” with me and let me be the teacher when nobody else would. She had to be OK. There were more things for us to do together.
Thankfully she was OK, suffering just a minor concussion But that moment created a major change in how I viewed my sis.
Through the years we have created many wonderful, often very silly memories together, usually because of her good-natured, fun-loving, creative personality. From jumping up on a saddle in a bar in Utah, to singing “Favorite Things” at the top of her lungs and pretending to make play clothes out of curtains during a thunderstorm, my sister has a talent for making me laugh till I cry. There was always a sweetness to her as a child, and as an adult that has manifested in her being the kindest, most generous, most faithful friend to everyone who knows her. She has many friends who have become like a sister to her -- so I feel especially lucky that I’m the one who gets to call her "sister."
She knows me better than just about anyone else and, thankfully, still accepts me. I can be my weird self, and she still accepts me, and is often even weirder than me. She is also the person I go to when I really need to talk to someone. When my mom passed away suddenly a few months ago, she was my lifeline. I clung to my sister to in a very tumultuous sea of grief -- and she did the same. As the other daughter losing that same wonderful mother, she was the only person who really understood what I was feeling.
I saw a quote today that said: “Only a sister is equally part of your past and your future.” And it really struck me -- because the "future" part of that quote was threatened a few days ago. Steph was concerned that she’d had a recurrence of the melanoma that had reared its ugly head a few years back. And suddenly I was 11 again, stomach tightening, heart pounding, worried that this precious being would somehow leave me. I couldn’t imagine my life without her when I was 11 and I can’t imagine my life without her now. We have a lot more memories to create together. I may be the older sister, but I have looked up to her for as long as I can remember. She makes me want to be a better, kinder, more fun-loving, more faithful, more thoughtful person. Stephie is the better version of me.
Thankfully, as in the earlier incident, she is OK. The biopsy came back clear. But once again, I was reminded of just how precious this gift that my parents gave me all those years ago is.
How thankful I am for a future that includes my sis. I will cherish every moment.
Hello! My name is Pam Reynolds Baker and I am a mom/wife /writer and lavender farmer located in Dundee, Oregon.