Sunday, October 18, 2009

SUNDAY Column: Happy Birthday, Little Sister.

Disclaimer: I debated whether or not I should write this column. There is an inherent risk for my safety in doing so. But any good writer knows that some things need to be said, regardless of the possible consequences. But in the event that I disappear next week…well, you’ll know why.

My sister has never particularly enjoyed her birthday, and that’s putting it mildly. Strange, I know, considering the fact that I’m still confused as to why my own birthday has yet to be declared a national holiday.

Well, her birthday happened to be Friday. And as much as I’m sure she’ll berate me for years to come for even mentioning her special day (she’s the shy, quiet type, after all), she deserves to have her birthday shouted from the rooftops. And when you think about it, who better to do the shouting than her big sister?

Psychology and child experts tell us constantly of the importance of the older sibling in a child’s life – how they teach the younger one about life and the world, how they set an example and how those sibling bonds only strengthen with age.

I agree 100 percent with that last assertion, though the other two may have missed the mark a bit in our “sister case.” I’ve said this before, but we’ve always been a unique sibling pair, from that very first day when my parents brought her home from the hospital and our first photo together shows me holding her in my tight little arms with the sort of grin usually reserved for the new mom, not the new sister.

But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Why? Because as much as I’ve tried to faithfully execute my job as big sister and protect her, she’s enriched my life and given me more reasons to smile and live and love than I could ever have imagined.

I know we didn’t have a “conventional childhood,” and even now, sometimes I start to feel bad when I think of all the hospital waiting rooms she’s sat in.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she’ll always tell me. While I hope she means it, I also know I couldn’t have lived through all those scary times without her.

And whether she admits it or not, I know those had to be scary times for her too. I suppose that’s part of the reason I’ve been trying to make up for lost times these last few years by pulling double-duty as a big sister (she calls this “hovering” on my part; I just call it sisterly love).

Because now, more than ever, I want her to be happy. I want her to fully believe in herself. I want her to see how beautiful she is. I want her to see herself as others see her. I want her to be proud of herself because she’s grown into one amazing woman, sister and best friend.

She may hate her birthday (and she may temporarily hate me for making such a big deal out of it), but she deserves to celebrate her life today. She’s come a long way, baby – and though she’ll probably hate me for saying this too – she’ll always be my baby too.

Happy Birthday, little sister. Your big sister loves you dearly.


  1. That is so sweet! Nothing's more important than family.

    I would hazard a guess that everyone, deep down, prefers family who embarrasses them and shows their love for them over family who does neither.

  2. Melissa, this is an incredible writing!! how beautifully you express your feelings.. i have a younger sister too and i can totally understand how you feel for her.. lovely and protective.. that's what makes us "big sisters" right??

  3. and a big happy birthday to her!!!

  4. Very cute post! Happy birthday to your sister!

  5. happy birthday, melissa's sister!!!


  6. I'm sure she'll melt when she reads this. It's important to celebrate our birthdays, if not by actions then at least by thought - I'm here, I exsist! And it's definitely good when others are happy because of that fact:)

    Happy birthday to your sis, may all her wishes come true!

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  8. so sweet!!!!

    have a super week!
    xo Laura

  9. thanks for all the sweet comments! When I told her you all were wishing her a happy birthday, she couldn't believe it! :)


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