I remember the day my sister was born. Everyone says I can’t but I do. The day Sis was born began in Holy Cross hospital. I feel Granma take my hand as I wave goodbye to my daddy who is dressed in green hospital clothes just like a doctor. Time slips by like empty space before the next memory returns in the form of a brown and yellow flower patterned blanket spread over a bed. At two and a half I am too small to see over the edge. Daddy lifts me and I see Mommy looking tired and alone, the baby I’d expected is strangely gone.
More time passes from memory in empty waiting until I am standing under a glass window crisscrossed with diamond patterned lines. I feel my white fur coat gathering around me as my father’s hands take hold of my waist and he lifts me and points. “Not that one, no…not that one either.” He is pointing at babies in glass boxes behind a glass wall. “That one.” He says and waives at the nurse who walks to my sister and holds her up. I can already see her red hair peeking out from under the cap they’ve placed on her head. In that moment I love her. It’s not the passing love one feels for a pet or a doll but a blinding, body breaking, all consuming love that I can’t imagine I’ll ever feel again. In that moment I know that she will be my world and I love her, I just love her.
The home coming takes a week. I see Mommy from time to time and I see the baby they call Alexandria. Sometimes she is in Mommy’s arms, sometimes she’s in the glass box behind the glass wall. I want to hold her, kiss her and hug her but I’m not allowed to touch her. Everyone’s afraid of germs so I go with Granma and wait.
When Sis finally comes home there is a party. My grandfather and his second family arrive with his three kids who are little like my sister and I. There is also my cousin Little Robin, who is half grown and strong. He sits on the sofa and holds my sister. I watch feeling jealous and angry but I’m only allowed to touch her hand. This anger is a new feeling. It’s the first time I’ve felt it. It eats at me telling me I’m not enough, that I can’t be trusted, that I’m dangerous. I throw fits, I sneak baby kisses and get in trouble more than ever before. I know I’m supposed to help but I can’t and I’m frustrated.
The babies old long name is quickly shortened to Sis and Sis quickly proves herself to be an angry baby. Mommy walks her in circles for hours, singing the same songs in the same order while circling in the same direction because if she does anything out of order Sis screams. Some nights she screams no matter what Mommy does. My bed lays besides the old crib in our nursery where no one sleeps. I see Mommy pace circles in her long white nightgown as Sis screams and will not be soothed. I see her lay Sis down in exhaustion and leave while my sister screams on alone. through her screams I feel her anger, her discomfort and her confusion in every part of my body.
Slipping from bed I slide my arm between the bars of the crib and hold her hand. The old green linoleum floor is cold but I hold her hand for as long as I can. Her fierce dark eyes turn towards me, searching for my face in the shadows. Slowly she grows quiet. I stroke her face with my other hand, listening for Mommy who will be angry that I’m touching her baby. If I could I would climb my old crib and hold my sister to my heart. I would pull the string that makes our wooden jester dance and I would show her the little lamb that is painted on the headboard. If I was given a chance I would show her how not to be afraid or angry. I would keep her warm with hugs and let this love I feel for her spread from my over full heart into hers. But I can’t so I hold her hand and tell her again and again, “I love you.”