When you were born, you were the angel I stood in awe of. When you opened your wide green eyes, I instantly had a smile upon my face. I thought that mom had given birth to you for my enjoyment and mothering. You were mine.
I could never coo or giggle at you enough. And holding you or dressing you was a treat that made me feel as though there couldn't be anything better in the world.
As we grew up, the four years difference between us left indeliable impressions on us both. You kept me young, my imagination bright and life vivid. How often I think of our treks to the toy store with our amassed allowance-based wealth in our pockets in order to buy a Jem doll kingdom, simple puzzle puzzle or sparkling bubbles (it always depended on how wealthy we were on that visit).
I taught you to appreciate who you are and grasp out beyond your bounds in order to grow and thrive. Question everything in the universe as you grow older. And, you did. Your riotous romp into teenager-adult territory was a proud time for me. Even when you came home at 3 a.m. after a night out with friends, I admired your independence and tenacity as a mother hen would of its chick. Along the way, I also like to think that I showed you how to listen to music and appreciate art. Or, at least I hope I did.
As I explored my life and tries to put myself together in college, a chasm grew between us. I guess it was inevitable. But, we were always there for one another, even when we felt as though we spoke two separate languages. We had a subconscious bond that grounded us. Unspoken love, respect and affection can reach fathoms inside.
When I left for another state, a new life and a future with a spouse and a job, you became my baby sister again. Your visits to the house brought back all of the old ties that bound us together as sisters. We laughed, explored and traveled together. we had fun. I cherish every moment because it was like I was walking with you to the toy store again.
We've continued to grow close even with so much distance. We are learning new things from one another. I am learning from you resilence, strength, and the ability to make life work out when it doesn't go as planned. You have a baby now and he is fighting to stay alive. You are by his side fighting along with him. Your heart broke when you lost the other child you bore. You mourned his loss and then took strength in the baby that is still here. No one's life is perfect, but you make it all work. You are content with the beautiful messes we are all handed day to day.
Little sister, your life and lessons are just now truly beginning. And, it hasn't been easy; not the princess-and-the-pea life I had always dreamed for you. But, I hope that what you have learned from your family helps you through. I hope my love and constancy is a source of strength. And, I hope you see that you have a huge fan, a big sister, who admires you and all you have accomplished...my little sister.
Your small forehead wrinkles and reminds me of the lines that make the sage brow of an elephant. These care-worn creases, usually reserved for the weathered and old, wrap around your small spherical eyes. Your flapping tongue gives away the fact that the ventilater tube inside your small mouth is irritating and invading. It flicks back and forth, next to the tube and then touchdown on your bottom lip. Your tiny nose is giving shape to your face -- a perfect blend of your mother and father. I look at you and you are a three-dimensional puzzle --there is Andrea's eyes and cheeks, there is Courtney's ears and nose, and do I detect the round chin that is prominent on your grandmother and great-grandmother?
A small miracle that is what you are. One day you will grow into a man, but now we revel in the tufts of curly dark hair on your head and the minute fingernails. We giggle a bit at the feet that have grown to a size that appears too big and out of proportion with your 15-inch baby body. You smile or coo and you melt our hearts. You cover your face or mischievously touch the tape on your face and we laugh at the intelligence and personality you already display.
We came to see you, speaking your name over and over like butterflies departing from our lips. A sacred hush or om because there is religiousness that is appropriate while you are in the hospital and we spend time at the side of your little NICU altar. We are waiting, and praying, for your true life to begin. You will have a life beyond these shiny white walls and sparkling tan floors. We are waiting for you. So many of us.
When you open your eyes it is like watching a Super Nova appear through the lens of Hubble. We are amazed and wonder at the incredible awe and power of nature. Every few minutes we glance away from your angelic face and look at the various monitors around your altar, displaying numbers that tell us of your progress and health. 22. 64. 82. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. All of this information is all once hope and concern. If the numberology tells us your future is bright we are excited and hope for the best, but deep down we still have conern because we have not heard the tension of your angry my-diaper-is-wet cry or the soft belch after a filling meal. We still haven't had the glee of passing you around to the seemingly alien hands of family members. We haven't had the chance to nap with you limp and asleep on our chests.
There is a crowd awaiting your arrival. We all pray and think of your baby skin and can't wait to inhale the sweet scent of your baby breath. We are waiting. And, the day you come home can never be soon enough.
My nephew, Corron, and his twin, Correll, were born at 24 weeks. Both were born so early they had not yet opened their eyes. They both fought for their lives vehemently from when they first exited my sister's womb. Correll lost his battle at two weeks and we mourned a life that was lost and never had the chance to truly begin. Corron continues to fight. He was born 1 pound, 1 ounce and is now 3 pounds, 2 ounces. Every minute I get to see him is a blessing. We hope he will be home in July.