I took a good look at my youngest sister, Lindsey (also affectionately known as Stinky Linda, but only by me. She'll kick your butt if you call her that), last weekend when we went to Oak Harbor for a late Christmas celebration. I was shocked to find that she is no longer a little girl, nor is she the awkward young teenager I left behind.
I can still remember the morning she was born. I was almost 11, and still in shock that my parents had actually performed the act that would result in the birth of another sister. Sarah and I were hastily dropped off at Uncle Rick and Aunt Peggy's in the middle of the night, and it really wasn't very long before the phone rang and we were informed that it was a girl. Once we got to the hospital I refused to hold her for quite a while. I couldn't tell you why today; I guess I was overwhelmed and a little scared. But when I did finally take her fat little body in my arms, I was in love.
In May of 2001, Lindsey was 8 and I had just turned 19. It was one of those spring days that made you happy to be alive, and I was lying on a blanket in the back yard talking on the phone with my long distance boyfriend, Andy. Lindsey zoomed by on her pink bike, headed down the hill at a rate that I was not comfortable with. "Slow down!" I shouted at her.
She didn't. It was only seconds before I heard her scream. I flew off the blanket and ran down the hill as fast as I could, the cordless phone still clutched in my hand. A mini van had already stopped and the driver reached her at the same time as me. I scooped my sister up into my arms and the mini van driver loaded us up into her vehicle, taking off up the hill before I even had the door closed. To this day I feel terrible for holding Lindsey flat. Blood was running down her throat and she was coughing, but I didn't think to sit her up. Sorry, Lindz! Both her jaws were broken, and her front teeth found their way into her sinuses, but it was nothing that couldn't be put back together by a good surgeon. It wasn't until the next morning that my parents called to let us know what was going on, and I'm pretty sure that was the longest night of my life.
Today, without my even realizing it, Lindsey is a young woman--almost 17. Her braces are gone and her hair has settled into a manageable bob instead of the frousy mess I remember. She showers and sometimes she even wears makeup. Her skinny little swimmer's body has developed curves in a way that Sarah and I never experienced, and the legs that used to follow me around have now reached lengths that surpass even my mom's. Low rise jeans and fitted hoodies have replaced the too-short sweats and baggy t-shirts she used to sport continuously. She drives.
Maybe I'm shocked because I've been in and out of home as she grew. Maybe I was too busy to notice. But the quiet, reserved girl I remember has turned into a chatty, more confident woman. And I'm proud of her.