She was joy wrapped in skin, cheeks chubby with wide smiles, ringlets of hair framing her face.
I lost years with her as we grew and I became too cool for a younger sister who tagged along and would never stop singing.
I remember telling her if she could just be quiet, she could stay, but inevitably, almost every time, she would catch herself in song.
You can't silence a song bird, you know, and who in her right mind would ever want to, I ask myself now.
When I lost my cool, she found hers. A college student herself and me freshly married, we didn't quite see eye to eye until life came hailing down on top of our heads and we lost the man we called dad.
She drove us to the hospital one day before he died.
And she sang almost the whole way there.
I'll never forget the way I felt when I heard song slip from her lips on a drive into the darkest day ... like heaven spilled a little bit of peace out of its gates and I got to bask in it for a few minutes.
God is the God of second chances even when it seems like death is winning. The day our father died, I cried in my sister's arms.
The older melting into the younger, like she used to melt into my arms as a baby, while realizing the gift of grace God meant a sister to be.
As if that gift weren't enough, she moved into the spare bedroom of our house just a few months later, and I silently thanked God for making more time to live beneath the same roof after the time I had naively squandered.
We laughed a lot. We threw dance parties with the boys on cold, rainy days. We shared coffee in the early mornings.
It wasn't long until someone else discovered the gift I had found in her, and swept her off her feet and into marriage and then motherhood.
|Photo by Julie Valkanet Photography|
In laws like brothers, cousins like siblings, aunts and uncles like another set of parents ... and sisters like, well, sisters. But in the way God meant it instead of the way I once saw it.
I waved goodbye this morning, after they packed the final boxes at their home right down the street, kissed the soft cheeks of my niece, more joy wrapped in skin, just like her mother.
Instead of a few measly miles in between our houses, there will now be hours upon blasted hours.
As I hugged her, I cried and she wrapped me up in her arms.
I remember the years I wish I could reclaim, the ones I took my sister for granted; I think of the ones that have been redeemed.
I think of the miles that are going to be the space between us
the hours that will separate us
and I know, like I couldn't have once known but understand now years and life later,
all of that space can't hold
the song she keeps singing
and those hours
can't steal the gift of a grace that is sisterhood
and that what I've found
in the hours
in the space
her own heart
are strings tied together
that go to the whole distance
mile by long mile
and hour by long hour.