Firsts

For my sister

I thought I might write a little something about how good it felt to take our two kids with us to the polls and get our “future voter” stickers, but instead, my sister is having a baby and I can’t stop thinking about her.

Two and half years older, I have been the first to do just about everything—the first to go to school, the first to get a car, the first to get a cute husband, the first to lose sleep over a baby.  Until Aaron helped sensitize me to my sometimes aggressive older sibling antics, I often swathed my sister in advice and instruction from where she should go to college to how she should have a baby.

Then she grew up on me and married the most responsible man I’ve ever met and got a bigger house and turned thirty and got pregnant. It’s been a hard third trimester. She’s in the hospital now with doctors who are keeping a close eye on her blood pressure. Soon, we’ll both be mothers.

Sometime in the last few days as she wrestled with some discouraging blood pressure numbers, Samantha told me that looking at pictures of Clara and William on this blog helped her relax.  I told her that often when we say our evening prayers, Clara’s first offering of thanks is for her “Aunt Sam.” Sam said, “I love her.” And, she always has.  One of the first pictures we took of Clara was in Sam’s arms. Indeed, I am not ashamed to admit that Samantha may have felt more tenderly than I, still reeling from post-partum hormones, did in those first few days.

People say “I love you” all the time and love can be the simplest or most complicated feeling we know.  My sister keeps her feelings deep inside, and more than anyone else, when my sister says she loves someone, I believe her. I have always known her love for my children was the easiest, most natural love there is, though I didn’t understand it until tonight.

Tonight I went to my first yoga class since having William.  I had an hour and a half to think about my sister in the hospital with her baby about to be born.  I have done just about everything first except be an aunt to my sister’s child.  Samantha watched Clara many afternoons for me while I ran errands and went to appointments when living in Tampa for a couple months before William’s birth.  Clara spent her first night away from us at Sam and Tim’s house.  Samantha has shown me how to properly aunt your niece or nephew.

But love is not something you teach; it either rises up or it doesn’t. Tonight, I understood that even as Clara shouts “Mine!” and “No!” and cries because someone got something for her that she wanted to get for herself, Samantha’s love for my kids is never a lie. I understood it because what warms me tonight are thoughts of her baby Jack, who is about to come into the world naked and alive, and I want to envelop him in my arms and fold him into my life. I want Sam and Tim to go somewhere for the weekend so I can babysit and succumb him to Clara’s totalitarian affection. I want to lay him on his belly across from William and watch them stare at each other. I want to walk him until he goes to sleep, and I want wherever I am to be a place he wants to go to. I want to show him the best meanings of family, like his mother has shown me.

Samantha

Samantha with baby Clara.

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