It has been so good to be home. And even though I wish it were under different circumstances, I LOVE getting to spend all this time with my little sister, Hannah. I was two months shy of 11 when she was born and I remember awaiting her arrival with nearly the same anticipation that I have had for my own little ones. My mom was 42 when she had Hannah and I watched both of my parents go through mini midlife “how-could-this-happen” crisis’ before my eyes. My mom was incredibly sick through her pregnancy with my sister. They had hoped to wait until she was closer to 16 weeks to break the news to us kids because my mom had gone through a few miscarriages before. I remember when I was about 8 and she had a miscarriage; my dad sat us all down and told us that Mom had lost a baby and she would need some extra care and love from us in the coming days because she needed to take it easy. I remember wandering around the backyard and finally sitting on the edge of our patio watching my shoe laces arc up and down as I kicked my legs back and forth; my young mind tried to absorb thoughts as distant and unknown to me as death and even scarier: the thought that my parents might not be invincible. I didn’t really share in the grief though because I hadn’t known anything was happening before we had been told of the tragedy. My neighbor friend came over to play with me, and after I solemnly explained with my 8 year old words what my dad had told us, we had a few moments of sad silence together before running off to play in her treehouse.
So, all that to say, I think my parents were aware that it would hit us much harder if my mom were to lose the baby since we were older; thus, 16 weeks was the goal. But my mom was so sick that my older brother Adam and I knew that something was up. I remember Adam and I sitting in my bedroom one day having a talk that went something like, “either mom is dying… or she’s pregnant. I wish they would just let us know one way or the other.” In retrospect, its funny that they thought they could even wait till 16 weeks because my mom hid very little on her 4 foot 9 inch frame and was showing almost immediately.
We were ecstatic when they finally told us she was pregnant… partly because it meant that mom wasn’t deathly ill, but mostly for me because it meant I was getting a real life doll to play with. I went through every piece of clothing we were given, carefully picking out what I would dress her up in. In my mind, it was always a “her”. This was in the 90’s and before the days of automatic 20 week screenings and gender reveal parties, but I prayed so hard for a little sister that I just felt deep down that God would surely give me one. I’m not sure that God felt the need to give me a sister because of my self-centered prayers, but he gave me one anyway in spite of them. “Hannah Marie!!” my dad announced joyfully on the phone the night she was born and I can still remember my friend Becky and I jumping up and down and screaming for several minutes. Her dad poked his head in her room and grinned saying, “that must mean its a girl”.
Because of the age gap, Hannah often felt like half sister and half child to me. Because of this, I’ve always felt like it would be fun to have a few children now and another few in another decade. I’m sure I will probably feel different on the backside of the next decade, but it still sounds like fun at the moment.
The hardest part of leaving for college, without a doubt, was leaving her at home when I moved across the country to Tennessee. I was sad to leave the rest of my family for sure, but it ached a bit more knowing that I was going to miss so much of her growing up experience. Part of my heart stayed in Michigan with a little girl whose two huge brown eyes filled with tears every time I called home. Mom would hand the phone to Hannah and there would be a good 30 or 40 seconds of silence as she tried to get words out. Finally a breathy and high pitched, “hi” would come across the line while I replied in an overly bright voice to cheer her up while I quickly wiped away tears of my own.
I have watched from a distance as she has grown into a beautiful young woman who still possessed the most beautiful brown eyes in the world. It has been such a blessing to watch our relationship turn into genuine friendship. We are very similar in many ways, but different enough to learn things from one another. I love that we both love to make things beautiful, to decorate and create and sing. Her spirit is much more gentle and naturally sympathetic than mine is though… and I… umm… well, I am a better speller. So see? Things all even out in the long run, right? 😉
When I went on bedrest I couldn’t fully comprehend how it was all going to work. It just didn’t seem like an option with a toddler, but it has worked out amazingly well. Hannah is such a natural with Judah and has worked so hard to take care of our sweet son and our household with a servant like heart that I only hope I also emulate. I can’t wait to be off bedrest, but the silver lining to this cloud has been definitely been stolen time with my sweet little sister.
Its overwhelming to think of the ways that God blesses us with different significant people in our lives. Some are born in our families… others are brought in by bonds formed that grow stronger than blood. Either way, it goes to show that God meant for us to function together, to love one another and to be challenged and made more beautiful through these interactions.
Its definitely an added blessing when these people turn out to be so easy to love though.