To my (not so) baby sister as she finishes college: I’ve never been one for cliches, but I’ll be the first to admit that ‘time flies’ really hits home. It seems like just the other day I was getting ready to leave home, and you, no more than thirteen at the time, were sitting at the bottom of the stairs, watching in silence as I packed my bags.
If I’m being honest with myself, I think I’ll forever have a heavy heart over the moments I missed. For the tears I wasn’t able to wipe from your cheeks after I left. For the nights you went to sleep thinking you were alone.
Thousands of miles away, I was living my life. I was busy with my own school, own problems, own dreams. It was never that I didn’t care. Sometimes I didn’t know, but that’s still not an excuse.
As you get ready to graduate from college, as you navigate through the last of the drunken nights and terrible friends, the heartbreak over boys you’ll one day forget—all the things I fought through years ago, my heart aches all over again.
This is your time now—time to grow and get hurt, make mistakes and start over. This is the time for you to let your wings grow and take steps down your own path, and perhaps one that isn’t in proximity to me. I’m at the age, now, where I don’t want anything other than to be by your side.
Watching you grow, from afar, has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
But I can’t go back. I can’t rewind and hold you when you cry. I can only move forward, and learn that even though our lives pull us in two different directions—you’ll always be my (not so) baby sister. And we will always have each other.
You’ve finished your classes, completed your degree programs, and proved to everyone (and most importantly yourself) that you are stronger than anyone ever believed. You have pushed through the mess of emotions that comes with age, through the people that betrayed you, and through the dreams that didn’t exactly go as planned.
And I’m so damn proud of you for that.
When I look at you now, I don’t see the little girl who used to follow my friends and me around the yard, who used to sing in the bathtub, who used to dress up like a horse and gallop around the living room. I see a woman. A woman filled with grace and resilience. A woman who breaks barriers and stands up for things that are important. A woman who brings laughter and love to the hearts around her—both enemies and friends.
When I look at you, I see a woman I’m blessed to know. A woman who I can only wish to be.
And so, to my (not so) baby sister as she finishes college: please don’t be afraid. Please don’t be scared of the change, of the unknown, of the emptiness and indecision you may feel or face. Remember the roads you’ve traveled without anyone beside you, and how confident that journey has made you. Remember that distance doesn’t have any power when it comes to real love.
And most of all, remember that the years have only brought us closer. And I will always be with you, wherever you wander or go. I love you.
Featured Image Credit: Marisa Donnelly