A lot of emotions were swirling within me that day. It was the day of Jennie’s senior prom.
Jennie is my baby sister. She is a miracle baby. When my father married Christa (my step-mom), they tried many years to have a baby; many, many years. They married when I was six. Jennie was born when I was 18.
As I left the prom and turned onto my road all the emotions came to a head. I pulled my car over and cried.
“This is not my role! This is not what I wanted! This is not fair! I’m not good enough for this! I will never be you!” I sobbed.
I have always wondered if there was more to moving back to New York than I was aware of. I had no idea that Christa would progressively get worse. I never imagined she would die. I never foresaw the tangled relationships that would pursue as a result of the loss.
I moved back to New York in the fall of 2001, the year Jen was 10 years old. I never imagined moving back to the small town where the vision is sometimes cloudy and the gossip runs rampant.
Life has a way of putting you where you need to be when you need to be there, even if you don’t yet know it.
There was a lot of instability in Jen’s life at that time. A lot of unknowns. From her perspective, I cannot imagine what that was like. Christa died when Jennie was about 16. It was the only semester her grades fell below an ‘A’.
For a while, I fell into a ‘mother’ role and truthfully, I was angry about that. I didn’t want to be her mother.
“This is not my role! This is not what I wanted! This is not fair! I’m not good enough for this! I will never be you!”
At that moment, a song from the funeral came on the radio. I suddenly got it.
My role in her life is to be a big sister. That’s it. I am going to make mistakes and probably give her shitty advice sometimes. We are going to disagree and sometimes fight. We aren’t always going to see eye to eye on things. In many ways, we see life differently, but I see her. I know her.
I drove home grateful that day. I was able to take her prom dress shopping. I was given the chance to follow her all around on prom day taking pictures. I walked out of the gym that day sad that Christa wasn’t there, but by the time I made it home, I was thankful that she had taught me how to hold the reins the best way I knew how – in my own shoes – as her sister.
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