If not for you: to Bridget and Kate

I wanted you both before you had names.

Ask Mom and Dad, and they will tell you how desperately I prayed for you both.  I was a bookmark between brothers, and then, you each came.

That all changed at 10:41pm on November 1st, 1999 when Bridget barrelled into the world with the brown eyes and congeniality that she’s been winning people over with ever since.  I didn’t think I’d get that lucky again.  Lightning doesn’t strike twice.  Only, it did again on June 4th, 2002.  A minute before 1pm, Kate was the gamechanger– we were a family without blonde hair or blue eyes, and here you came– a pioneer.  You’ve always been like that– an earthquake to all expectations.

If not for you two, I probably wouldn’t be here.

You are everything a big sister could hope for.

If not for you, I’d be someone completely different, and I don’t know who that would be but I’m not her.

My heartbeat sounds a lot like your names, and I hear it in my chest when I don’t want to be here.

I don’t want you to read this as an anchor or albatross– as if this big love is some kind of burden.  I just want you to know that in existing, you have made my life bigger and richer and more vast than I could’ve fathomed before.  You are my Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn– which is to say that you align me when I feel lost.

People talk about how parenthood ushers forth unconditional love. I am not a mother. I cannot speak to that. What I can say is that being your big sister is the greatest gift and honor.  I can say that the nights in high school I spent watching you rather than going out were worth it.  I can say that the ease at which “no” tumbles from your mouths makes me so proud because I have such a hard time enunciating such a simple word.

You can’t live for other people, but in others, I’ve figured out how to live.  In trying to contribute to someone else’s life, I’ve made my own life better.  You, Bridget and Kate, have been my metric for everything I’ve done.  I want to show you how messy and complicated and compassionate and gregarious women can be.  I hope you take a match to every “should” that enters your head.  I hope you take care of yourself.  And the only way I can make good on all my hopes for you is to live them myself.  Your lives are independent entities– entirely yours and unowed to anybody else, and they are also the perpetual dare to me to live my best life.

If you weren’t here, I wouldn’t be either.  So, thank you for being born.  Thank you for your big smiles and silly laughs.  Thank you for the eyerolls because I am ridiculous.  Thank you for your youth-isms and the times you assert your boundaries because, honestly, everything you do is gold.  And when life is hard (because it is) remember that you’ve always been loved, you’ve always been wanted, that even if you have nothing you have me, that you both are the answers to my greatest prayers, and every day, I celebrate that those prayers were answered.  I love you.  No matter what.

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