Today is my sister’s birthday. She is 32 now, yet whenever we meet people who do not know us, they always assume she’s the younger sister. I think it’s because of my abounding maturity and wisdom. Obvi.

We’ve all seen how adorable I was as a child. But you guys. Ceci was pretty cute too. In fact, she was so cute she won a beauty pageant. Please to see:
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That’s right! My lovely older sister was Little Miss Walmart!! Sadly, fame turned her into a snob and by the time I was on the scene, she had zero time for the little people. (And I was the littlest of people.) My sister did not like me for many, MANY years. (I KNOW. It makes no sense to me, either. I was precious and only wanted to be her friend and do everything she did and dress like she did and listen to her same music and have the same toys and hang out with her friends and IT MIGHT BE MAKING SENSE TO ME NOW.)
Still though. Like it or not, we were sisters. And the big sister/little sister bond is a strong one. She might not have liked me but she definitely protected me, always having my back:
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Every summer we would go to Montana to visit our father and those plane trips were always my favorite. See, on airplanes? When there was nothing else to do and nobody else to hang out with? That’s when Ceci would be SO FUN. She’d play cards with me, color pictures with me. I loved riding on airplanes with her. She was the bravest person I knew, daring to get up in front of a crowd of strangers to sing Born (With a Mic in Our Hands) by Barbie and the Rockers:

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Sure, she might have brokered very unequal deals when we played with our Barbies (I’ll give you THIS ONE PAIR OF SHOES if you give me those Barbies, three outfits, and your Barbie Car…DONE.) or when we rooted through our newly-collected Halloween loot (I will give you THREE Tootsie Rolls for all of your chocolate…DONE.). And yes, maybe our parents would have to come in and stop the trade and have a talk with her about fairness (while I was in the background shouting, “No Mama, I WANT her to have all my Barbies!!”) but still. She was PLAYING with me.
As we got older, we outgrew Barbies and got our own friends. Still, I idolized my sister. I would sneak into her car while she was in the shower to steal her cassette tapes, making secret contraband copies and hurrying to replace the evidence before she caught me. Then I would brag to my eighth grade friends that I’d been listening to the Beastie Boys for FOREVER. (PS? Thank you Ceci, for unknowingly introducing me to the Beastie Boys. I will be forever grateful. As will anyone in any karaoke bar at which I perform “Get it Together.”) I would beg and plead with her to borrow her clothes because I was convinced she was so much cooler than I was. I might have been wrong on that last point. Please to judge for yourself:
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When I was a freshman in high school, my sister was a senior. This was the year I found out about her tattoo (from a mutual friend) and was sworn to secrecy. (I’d like to point out right here I NEVER told on her, nor did I use her tattoo as blackmail material at all. I think that should tell you all you need to know about my devotion to my older sister.) That was also the year I realized she was leaving. She would be graduating and going away to the University of Texas in Austin and I would be stuck in Granbury, stuck in our house, stuck with our parents (which, for a hormonal 14-year-old, was the worst fate in the whole world). And even though we weren’t friends, and even though we barely spoke except to argue over the bathroom, my sister knew how hard her leaving was for me. She knew and she gave me the best thing she could. One night, after a particularly rough argument with my stepfather, I was in my room crying. Ceci asked to come in (which was unusual, as it interrupted her fine art of pretending I didn’t exist) and sat on the bed with me. She gave me a cassette tape and told me to listen to song number 6. The tape was Blink-182 and the song was Peggy Sue. There was a line in that song, she said, that she would repeat to herself over and over again when things got tough and all she wanted was to move to Austin and leave Granbury behind: “You say you want to take off your shoes as you walk barefoot down the street. Just be the things that you can be…just live for one more week.” And then she hugged me. After she graduated and moved away, I took a small piece of paper, wrote the words “just live for one more week” in black marker, and taped it to the inside of my closet as a reminder that my sister loved me and understood what I was going through.
There’s a photo from her graduation that’s infamous in my family because it seems so melodramatic, but to me it embodies everything I felt about my sister in that moment. She was the best and coolest person I knew, the person I admired more than anyone in the world, and she was leaving. My feelings about her leaving were raw and in that moment, her departure was very real:
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And honestly? That’s the way I feel to this day, every time we have to say goodbye to each other. Because there is nobody in the world who knows me better than she does.
So this is for you, Big Sister. Thank you for dressing up with me:
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Thank you for letting me hug you, even though Mom made you:
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Thank you for showing me how to pose for a picture:
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For telling me secrets (and trusting me to keep them):
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And for making me laugh:
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Thank you for being a wonderful sister, even though we lost our super special sister bracelets. Thank you for stopping me from sending Chance Smith a love letter in the 4th grade and for being so kind when I was in love with a boy who was in love with you. Thank you for helping me every time I’ve needed you. Thank you for driving across the country with me when I moved to Seattle, which was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but way less scary because you were there.
Most of all, thank you for being the person I look up to the most. You are the greatest big sister a girl could have and I love you so much.
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