Yesterday someone in my Facebook network shared this photo and it really got me thinking:
When I was growing up, I always thought my parents’ separation was a BAD THING. I’ve written before about it here in this space, about how I was so angry at my father for leaving, so angry at my mother for letting him leave, so angry at my step-siblings for the time they were able to spend with my father, time that I could not. For a long time I was a mean-spirited, hateful girl who grew into the same kind of woman.
Thankfully, things change and time (usually) heals all wounds.
You’d think, as one who strongly subscribes to the theory of “everything happen for a reason”, I would’ve calmed down a bit and let life progress as it should instead of railing on and on about how my family did me wrong. It honestly wasn’t until Dave and I started dating that I realized that this one, big, BAD THING that had happened was actually one of the best things to occur in my life. Why? Because my father moved to Prince Edward Island when I was seven years old and still lives there to this day. I moved in with him for a short amount of time when I was twenty-two. Of course, being a young adult, I needed a job. When I finally got one in Charlottetown it was where Dave worked. Aside from a few muddled years apart, the rest, as they say, is history.
But this isn’t about Dave. Not this time.
It’s true that if my parents hadn’t split up and my father hadn’t moved to PEI where my stepmother’s family lives I never would’ve met my husband. I mean, maybe, I might have, some other way, some other time, but I doubt it. I guess it’s possible. The chances would have been slim, but maybe still possible.
What I do know for a fact, however, is that if my parents hadn’t separated when I was four years old I one-hundred-percent, for-sure, without-a-doubt would not have met one of my most favourite people in the world; without whom my life would be very different indeed. Without her, my life would be a little duller, a little less fun. If my parents hadn’t separated and my father hadn’t met my stepmother, I wouldn’t have the privilege of knowing and adoring my little sister, Saundra. Without a doubt, if the BAD THING hadn’t have happened, she wouldn’t have happened either.
This is about her.
Saundra was born when I was six years old. I don’t remember my father telling me about her impending arrival. Honestly, how I remember finding out I had a little sister goes like this: My father came over to pick me up from my house one day and told me he was taking me to meet my new baby sister. I was a little confused, but I went with him to the hospital. She was in one of those glass, incubator-ish, crib-like trays (technical term), with a name card on the side. She was pink and tiny and wrapped tightly in an equally tiny blanket.
We met twenty-four years ago today.
Today is her twenty-fourth birthday.
Regrettably, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Saundra as we grew up. I wish I had. My father and stepfamily moved to Ontario shortly after she was born and then to PEI not long after that, and I remained home with my mother, 300-plus kilometres away. As I’ve touched on before, I usually only saw my stepfamily for roughly six weeks during the summer months. Six weeks out of a year is not enough time. I think we both wanted more, but distance – and life itself – would not permit it.
But, again, things change. Thankfully, Saundra and I have spent more time together as we’ve grown (although not nearly as much as I’d like) and our similarities have paved the way for a close bond to form between us. Even though we don’t see one another or speak as often as I’d like, I love and appreciate her more than there are words to explain (but it wouldn’t be like me not to try).
I might not know all there is about my sister, but of this I’m sure: She is the best of all of us.
She gets her kindness from our father, something he instilled in her from the very beginning of her days. From her mother she received her intelligence, her raw and demanding desire for knowledge. She has Andrew’s big heart, as vast and deep as the fathomless sea. From James, she acquired a sense of unbridled ferocity, ready and willing to defend anyone or anything she believes in or loves. She gained her strong sense of determination and her love of children from Sarah, and there are three kids (almost four!) who are incredibly blessed to have her as their aunt.
I’m not sure what she got from me. Sometimes I think it’s my love of all-things-nerdy, like books and films and tea and all those random things that come from the off-beaten path. Sometimes, maybe, I think it could be my strong sense of empathy and how I just feel everything so damn much because, sometimes, she does too. Maybe still it’s only those physical traits she has that we both have, traits we received from our father, the same hands and the shape of our eyes and how we can crook our left eyebrow like it’s nobody’s business.
I’m not sure what she got from me but I know one thing’s for certain – she is the slyest and surest of thieves, for she’s stolen my heart completely. She damn-well does it to just about everyone she meets and you just can’t help but let her. She is disarming and selfless and a force to be reckoned with. She is laughter, love, and light made real. She is our brightest, shining star.
Everything happens for a reason. Without the BAD THING that happened to me, I wouldn’t have one of the BEST THINGS that ever happened to me.
Happy birthday, you wise, beautiful girl. My goodness, I just love you so.