"A sister is both your mirror and your opposite." - Elizabeth Fishel
Bailey: The one with whom I share memes and genes. The one I mistake for myself when scrolling through pictures. The only other one who knows what it’s like to be Annie and Bruce’s daughter. My sister.
We have always been separated by age, and since 2003, physical distance. I am so old, compared to her, that it is like she has a second mother. And right now, it takes six hours to drive to one another. But, not a day goes by that we don’t talk. Mostly on Snapchat because, let’s be honest, neither one of us loves to talk on the phone.
She and I don’t share a stereotypical sister relationship. We didn’t grow up sharing clothes and annoying one another. We don’t even share a “typical” sister relationship. Being so far apart in age put us in completely different places (literally!) throughout our lives. However, like all siblings, we share a unique family experience that no one other than she and I can understand in the same way. Not the least of which has been the loss of our dad. Plus, our understanding that family dynamics are often frustrating, but can be funny when put in perspective. And, the knowledge that no matter how many Bratz (her) or Barbies (me) you have, Annie will give them all away if you don’t clean your room. No one on this planet understands me in this way like my little sister does. Most situations, I can comfort her by simply telling her “I have been there” and helping her navigate. And she comforts me by just understanding the intricacies of our family.
Besides sharing parents, a family home, and relatives, we have some further striking similarities. If you match our photos throughout the years, you can tell that kindergarten Bailey looks very much like kindergarten Josie and so on. (Annie has some strong genes.) We love snacks. Traveling is our favorite and we have been on two continents and in multiple countries together. (She’s been a great traveler since her first plane to Mexico at six months old.) We think the same things are funny and I love that she loves board games as much as I do. Physically, we look even more alike as she gets older. She’s like my twin, only fifteen years late.
That all being said, we had very different childhoods. I lived 15 years without a sibling and was entrenched in the “only child” experience before she was born. She has always had a “way older” big sister, though she, too, lived like an only child for the majority of her childhood. She has always driven fairly and/or brand new vehicles. I drove a 1994 Camry until 2011. She had a cell phone by the age of 7. I got mine when I was 14 and had a learner’s permit. She has never known a life without the internet. I remember life before internet (gasp!) and then having to “dial up.” Annie didn't speak to me for three days when I got my first (completely covered) tattoo. Bailey has multiple and most are visible while fully clothed; Annie either didn't care or was too tired to give her the silent treatment. That fifteen years makes a difference in parental attitude, for sure!
In short, I love her fiercely and in a way I could never feel for someone else. Like all big sisters, I know my baby sister’s entire life. And, unlike all other big sisters, I remember it because I was 15 when her life started! Now, she’s been in my life longer than she hasn’t been and though our age gap will never decrease, our relationship evolves all the time. Different at each point in time, I love to look back at our sister dynamic and I feel so grateful to have such a kind, laid-back, and fun girl as my sister.
Xo, Johanna the Big Sister