I am the oldest of my mother’s 5 children. When I was a year old, my mother had my little brother. I told her as best I could that this was a mistake; she was supposed to bring me a baby sister. She kissed me and let me know there is a no return policy on little brothers. I decided I would make him my little sister anyway by dressing him in my barely outgrown dresses. He rebelled against this at around age 3.
When my brother and I were 5 and 4, my mother was pregnant again. We would argue over what it would be. I insisted this baby would be a girl because it was logical that it was a girl’s turn to be born, since the last one was a boy. My brother said, no, it was a boy because he wanted a brother. Well, I wanted a sister…AND it was a girls turn to be born, so I was doubly right…wasn’t I?
No. I wasn’t. I learned that babies gender’s were decided randomly and no amount of wishing would make a baby sister.
When my brother’s were 9 and 5, my mother gave birth to another baby. My long wished for sister was born was 2 days after my 11th birthday. She was a tiny squiggle with huge eyes and boy did she cry a lot! But she was my sister! And I had someone of my own to play with at last.
However, soon after her birth my sister was diagnosed with a rare congenital condition that affected her liver. Her fragility was impressed upon me repeatedly…"be gentle, no rough play, don’t touch her that way, she’s very delicate, she’s sick…" I could only watch her cry and try to talk to her. I washed her diapers and fed her bottles and baby food…but my poor sister was always treated differently, with kid gloves. She endured various treatments and medications to help her survive longer, but the prognosis was not good. She was given only 3 years to live.
My mother had one more child the following year, a boy.
I wish I could tell you there was a happy ending to my sister’s story, but I cannot. She died in her 13th year after 2 unsuccessful attempts at a liver transplant. She lived longer than the doctors predicted, but not past her childhood.
Her presence in our lives still reverberates. I cry as I write about the sister life gave me and death took away. She was so beautiful and so sweet. She was shy but had a lot of inner strength. I gave all my children names that begin with "K" in her honor. My oldest daughter looks like her, my middle daughter wants to change her name to Katheryn when she is emancipated. When I found out I was having another girl for my second child. I was ecstatic! Having a boy would have been wonderful too, but I remembered my own desperate wishes for a sister when I was little and it made me happy in a poignant way. I have 3 children now. The youngest is my beautiful son.
One amazing thing is that my sister came into the world and lived as long as she did, against all hope. She taught us about strength and willpower and wisdom that she had gained beyond her few years. She affected us all in so many important ways. She even affects my children who were born long after she left us.
Even though I still miss her and wonder about her so often, I am lucky to have had my sister in my life. I’m thankful for that.