She’s having another baby. I still can’t get over the idea that she ever had a first. She is my little sister. That’s how I will always see her. Little.
My wife sometimes has to remind me: “Your sister’s a grown woman now.”
But I remember her as a tiny thing. I remember how much she liked ice cream. I remember her full cheeks.
I remember long ago, when she tried to run away from home. We were in Georgia. I remember how sad she was. Somehow, I talked her into staying.
I remember the sound of her voice when she cried that day.
“Nobody loves me,” she moaned.
“I do,” I said.
“Well, I KNOW you do, but nobody else does.”
“I KNOW you and Mama do, but that’s all. Nobody else loves me.”
“The mailman does.”
“Oh, you bet. The mailman loves you a whole lot, he told me so himself.”
“The MAIL-man said that?”
“Hand to God. He said you were the only thing that keeps him going.”
“Oh, c’mon, now you’re just being stupid. Tell me who else loves me.”
“Miss Randolph, a few houses down. She loves you to death.”
“Oh, don’t be stupid.”
“She brings tomatoes and watermelons from her own garden because she loves you so much. You’ll crush her if you run away.”
“Oh, you’re being silly. Keep going, who else loves me?”
“Who else? Hmmmmm. Let’s see. The Daniels boys, they’re crazy about you.”
“Those greasy pigs?”
“They’re in love with you. Aaron Daniels practically wants to marry you, he told me that just this morning.”
“EEWWWW! He did? He smells bad. Who else?”
And I talked her into staying.
I remember when she was a baby. A clammy little thing who sang songs even though she didn’t know the words. I remember when she lost her front teeth and couldn’t pronounce “Sister Susie sells seashells by the seashore” without lisping.
I remember a lot of things. I remember the day she held my hand when we scattered Daddy’s ashes on a mountain. The way we watched them fall.
And the way she asked simple questions for which there were no answers.
“Where’s Daddy right now?”Or: “Are you gonna ever leave me?”
I remember early mornings when my mother and I threw the daily newspaper. I remember my sister, sitting in the backseat. I remember the jokes we told each other to keep smiling. And how her laughter sometimes turned into crying for no reason.
I remember her first car wreck. I remember her church youth trips. I remember playing in the Gulf, tossing her against large waves.
I remember her courthouse wedding, when the man holding the Bible asked me: “Who gives this woman away?”
I remember when I found out she had given birth to a daughter. I was at a Willie Nelson concert when it happened. My phone lit up with a text:
“YOUR SISTER IS A MOM!” it read.
Willie was signing “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.” And I remember that.
Anyway, tonight we stood in a living room with family around us. It was a fun night, complete with spaghetti on paper plates, children running everywhere, and dogs knocking over beer cans.
Then, my sister called for everyone’s attention.
She held an envelope in the air and explained that inside was the gender of their new baby. The room got so quiet you could hear the air conditioner.
She opened the envelope. She looked at the ultrasound photo. She bit her lip. Her eyes got wet. So did mine.
“It’s GIRL!” she announced.
We applauded. I hugged my baby sister. She is tall, and slender, but she is no woman. To me, she is a girl who likes living-room tents, ice cream, and puppies.
I haven’t always been the best brother, I’m too human to be best at anything. But I do remember things. I remember too many things. And I will always remember a little girl who said, “Who else loves me? Tell me, who loves me.”
I’ll tell you who, Sarah.