I was just 20 months younger than her and we grew up sharing bath time (that's me on the right - I sure was cute, wasn't I?), bedrooms, toys, clothes, fights, and friends. As we got older, we continued to share our bedroom, clothes, fights, and friends, but upped the ante with cars, lockers at school, and jobs. When she died the Saturday before my senior year began...it was like losing a limb. I was exactly two months shy of turning 17 and I hardly knew how to function. Living without her constant, daily big-sister presence in my life was like trying to learn how to walk again.
She was quite the big sister to have and perfectly suited for the role. (That's me and her in the picture above on Christmas morning 1977 when we were living on Guam. I didn't crop my little brother from the photo because (a) he's just so gosh darn adorable! and (b) he's one of my favorite brothers.) There was something magical about her; everyone that met her adored her. She had a special tenderness for the elderly and was a fierce protector of the disabled. When she was angry, the gold flecks in her crystalline blue eyes would deepen to a dark amber. When she was happy, it was like basking in the warmth of a full sun in the spring.
So today, I wish my big sister a happy birthday, where ever she might be.