When you were born I was so excited. Eight years (almost) difference in age is a lot and I’d been waiting for a sister, for you, for so long. You had the most darling hazel eyes, chubby cheeks, and smiling mouth. I loved you before you were even born but in that first moment I held you, it was an avalanche of pride, love, and hope for the best life for you.
It was a hot summer. You were about four and we had this big blow up pool that sat at the end of our driveway. I was sitting in it with two of my friends and you came running down the sidewalk in your swim suit, barefoot and laughing with your curly little pigtails bouncing off your shoulders. Suddenly you stopped, eyes went blank, face shut down, and you peed. You were already potty trained and in an instant I was out of the pool, crouched down in front of you, holding your hands, and asking if you were okay. You didn’t answer for a minute and when you snapped out of it, you realized you’d peed and were embarrassed. My two friends were laughing. They didn’t realize something was wrong but I did. I didn’t know what was wrong but I knew something was. I yelled at them and took you inside to clean you off and told mom and dad.
Some time later, we heard the words “epilepsy” and “absent seizure”. At the age of twelve I had heard the word but didn’t really know anything about it. I was scared for you. After a battery of tests and various medications, we knew the rundown. The little word epilepsy shaped your world, your future. I hate that. Things had changed but you were still a happy little thing and we were so in love.
I remember the first time I witnessed you having a grand mal seizure. It was the middle of the night, you’d been sick with a fever and mom and dad had given you Motrin. We didn’t know yet that there was an active ingredient in Motrin that triggered grand mal seizures in people with epilepsy. The ambulance came and I woke up. I saw them wheeling you out on a stretcher, your face contorted in what I assumed was pain, limbs rigid and flailing. I didn’t know what to do, I just wanted to make you better. To make it not hurt.
Through the years of poking and prodding by doctors you were so strong. I hate that epilepsy was what shaped your life but it made you so strong and brave. It made you caring and compassionate. Kids are cruel and this was no exception. Due to the epilepsy, you’d lost some hearing in each ear. In turn, you didn’t hear how things were pronounced as well and so it affected your speech. Kids are cruel.
I was so angry at your classmates. It felt like it was so long until you really had friends and it made me want to knock out these bullies. I even did once. Marching down the street to those twins after I heard they, being 6th graders and you in first grade, had pushed you on the bus, I banged on their doors and yelled at them, punching the one in the face. They swore they didn’t know you were my sister and I told them, “IT DOESN’T MATTER THAT SHE’S MY SISTER! You don’t treat ANYONE like that.” because you don’t. Cruelty is not funny. It’s not endearing or excusable because you’re young.
They never touched you again and that made me happy but I couldn’t protect you from hurtful words. I couldn’t shield you from everything.
Through it all, you smiled. You have grown into this beautiful woman and I’m so proud. You’re very different from many and I think that’s still tough on you. However, you own it. You are who you are and I love that. I wish I could talk to you. I wish I could relate to you better. I love you so much and I wish we were closer. Eight years makes it hard, especially when we are such different people with such different life experience. I wish I was the person you called when you had your first kiss. I wish I could tell you all these things and not feel silly or shy about it. I love you so much and am so proud. I just don’t know what to say and how to just be your friend. We are both awkward in our own ways and I know I tell you I love you all the time but I wish you knew how much I meant it. I wish we were friends. I hope that someday we will be.