I was eleven when my sister Jacqueline was born fifteen years ago today on the hottest Summer day of that entire season. I've been thinking about her today and how being fifteen is a really significant age, but how could it possibly have been fifteen years ago? Where did that time go?
I remember her birth like it was yesterday because I was there, and I was old enough to participate in that monumental event and to cherish how it would shape our relationship throughout her life. We were at home in the beach house when she was born, the house that's a half a mile from where I sit here in my bed tonight. All of us kids were born at home and I'm so proud of my mom for that. When Jacque came I was holding my mom's hand and stroking her arm, but I wasn't worried or uncomfortable at all. I remember wanting my mother to be out of pain, but also feeling so excited and caught up in the moment of what was happening that I didn't have time to feel fear. The house was so busy with people, far more people than should have been there, in hindsight that may have contributed to Jacque's continued and current need for attention all the time. Perhaps the production of her birth set the stage for a lifetime of expectant reception?
The heat was ridiculous considering the number of days the temperature ever reaches above seventy-five in Washington and then it just had to go and cook us into the eighties when my poor mother was laboring all day. In an effort to cool the room down a logical decision of opening all the windows was made, but I'm afraid that only forced our neighbor to have to listen in on the transpiring events as well. We'll never forget how he was mowing his lawn one minute and gone the next... I guess he figured he could wait until later when it cooled down and there wasn't a woman screaming next door!
Several weeks or even months before my sister was born my parents had started acquiring lullaby CD's and I was completely addicted to this one by Vanessa Williams. (Hey, I was eleven!) There's one song I still remember well and have sung a million times since to babies I was nannying and such... one of the verses goes something like this:
Over and under, around through and through, the love from my heart covers you.
Wherever you go and whatever you go, the love from my heart covers you.
Round and around you it goes, from your sweet little head to your toes,
Over the years you will see, that with every step you take, you can always count on me.
I sang this song to Jacque every day for God knows how long. I have no idea if she even remembers it now. I'm certain that having been there on the day she was born has made for a unique bond between us as the years have flown by. Being old enough to remember how she was scowling when she arrived and had olive skin and a dark bald head, I also recall her looking so serious at the world around her (as if she had just been told that her new life would surely include copious amounts of Lima beans and cold showers). These details have provided insight time and again as I've tried to understand her too, something I think only God can truly master.
Needless to say, the words to the silly lullaby are still true, she can always count on me. I'll always be a mirror (not always her favorite part of me) and a friend, a mother (for that's never leaving) and a sister which pretty much covers all the remaining gaps. I've gone away and come back several times in her fifteen years of life, but moving out, traveling to Europe, getting married and having my own life have been my contribution to the evolution of us. Now it's coming time for her to do the same. Tackle high school, stay out of trouble and keep good friends. Make plans, set goals, have dreams... I look forward to her successes and I celebrate her failures as a learning process which cannot be helped. I can't imagine the last fifteen years without her and without all three of my sisters for that matter, they have been a huge part of what I've been up to all this time and they continue to be a source of great challenge and reward still. There is much good to come of being where they are just as I was when they were born. Happy Birthday Jacqueline, wherever you are at this moment I'm sending you some lullaby love and hanging on for dear life as another fifteen years revs up and sets off with the top down so the wind can blow through your hair!
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