13 Days, 13 Years: A Letter To My Little Sister

13 Days, 13 Years: A Letter To My Little Sister

We’re on this journey together, kiddo….
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It’s been 13 days since I last saw you, just as many years as you’ve consumed my life. And maybe that seems negligible; 13 days isn’t even two weeks, but I’ve thought of you more than you know. I’ve missed you more than I thought I would at this point. You know how much I love being on my own but hey, you know how much I love being at home with you.

When you tell me about your friends, about school, or even about your impromptu snacks, I’m rapt with attention. It could be 2 P.M. or 2 A.M., I’m always ready to hear any detail you want to share. When you told me you were taking French because of how much I loved it, I thought I’d cry with happiness. When you told me you were enjoying choir and maybe you’d do theater in high school, I felt so proud. You don’t have to do the things I did, but it makes me so proud to see you trying things, discovering who you are, and developing into an extraordinary young lady. I can’t wait to see the absolute explosion you’ll make next year in high school.

You’re almost in high school.

You’re thirteen this year. I’ve played that sentence over and over in my mind and still it never sounds real. I never thought my little sister could reach such a… mature age. I’m not sure why, but even as I imagined myself blossoming into some strong, confident adult, I couldn’t comprehend you growing past age ten. Eleven at the oldest, for sure. I mean, you’re my baby sister. To me that’s what you’d always stay: a baby. And I promise, that sentiment will probably never go away, so go ahead and get over it. I know it can get incredibly annoying, but you know I do it with all the love I’ve got. Sometimes I don’t know if you really understand just how much love I have, especially when it comes to you. I don’t know if you really understand just how much you consume my mind, as well as my heart. You’re the most important person I have ever or will ever know, and don’t you ever doubt that. Above Mom, above Dad, above anyone and everyone. To me you’ll always come first. I know when we argue it may not seem that way (and sure, we argue enough for four siblings, much less just you and me).

My entire point with this was that I know it’s hard right now. I know it sucks, being thirteen, and it can be especially hard without someone around to understand. (Mom and Dad do their best, but sometimes you just need a sister’s help.) And I’m sorry I can’t be at home; you know how much I’d kill to get to see your beautiful, smiling face every day. (I can say that even more because we look exactly the same.) I know you miss me too. Don’t even try to lie; you know Mom told me how you’ve started sleeping in my bed. But you know that I’m always with you, even when I’m a two-hour car ride away. You know I’d do anything in this world for you, and you also know that’s never going to change. Growing up can really suck, kiddo, but I’m out here fighting the battle so maybe yours won’t be so bad. So please don’t think I’m far away. I’m always as close as any phone, and I’m always ready to listen. Thirteen is a hard year to get through and to be honest, it’s going to be a couple hard years as you grow into a young adult. But I know how brave, talented, smart, and loving you are, and I know you can handle any obstacle that could ever stand in your way. Even still, never be afraid to ask for help. I’ll push mountains, I’ll grab the moon; hell, I’ll run a marathon for you, and you know how much I hate exercise. So just because you’re technically the only kid in the house (even though the dog acts like a toddler) don’t think you’re alone. I always have your back, and as long as we stick together, there’s nothing in this world that can break us. You’re my rock, you’re my reason, you’re my best friend, but most importantly, you are and will forever be my little sister

Cover Image Credit: Maycee Dukes

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To Percy Jackson, I Hope You're Well...

Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus are both series which helped shape my life. I want to share my love for them here, with you.

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Two days before I moved from New Jersey to California, I had a late night at a friend's house. Just a few miles outside of my small town of Morris Plains, his house was out of the way and a safe haven for myself and my mother during a harrowing and strenuous move. My father had been across the country already for almost two months trying to hold down his new job and prove himself. His absence was trying on me (at the tender young age of nine years old) and my mother, and we often spent time at my friend's home, as our mothers got along well.

That night came the time to say goodbye for the very last time, and as our mothers were tearfully embracing at the door, he ran up to me and shoved a book in my hands. Bewildered and confused, I tried to give him my thanks but he was already gone - running away in a childish fit that expressed his hurt at my leaving more than any words he could've said. I looked down at the book in my hands. It was a battered copy of Rick Riordan's "The Lightning Thief," with its binding bulging slightly out in a strange fashion, the cover slightly torn and bent, and quite a few pages dog-eared. The book wasn't in good condition, but I took the time to read it. I was ensnared and enchanted by the lurid descriptions of mythology, of the lovable characters of Percy, Annabeth, and Grover, and the upside-down world they lived in. Over the course of the move and our eventual settling into our new California home, I devoured the series adamantly, reading "The Battle of the Labyrinth" almost five times in the fifth grade and eventually finishing out with "The Last Olympian." The series accompanied me through a difficult move and a whirlwhind of early puberty; by that time, Percy and friends I knew intimately as my own companions. When the series ended, I happily parted with it, and began other literary conquests (namely in the realm of classics).

After an almost year-long break, I re-discovered the series in sixth grade. I hadn't realized that there was a companion series to the first, in fact, a continuation - The Heroes of Olympus. I lapped up "The Lost Hero" and "The Son of Neptune" with greed, and eagerly awaited the arrival of "The Mark of Athena" the following year.

One of my most vivid memories of middle school was sneaking downstairs the morning of the Kindle release of "The Mark of Athena", sneaking past my parents' bedroom as stealthily as I could in the wee hours of the morning to get my kindle and immerse myself in the world. I believe I finished it in about two days. For the next two books in the series, I followed the same pattern: get up early, read it as fast as I could get my hands on it. "The Blood of Olympus", the last book in the series, came out in my freshman year of high school. After finishing the second series, I shelved my much-loved paperbacks for good, and turned myself to other literary pursuits. I eventually relocated to Virginia, and went to college. Percy and friends were almost forgotten until my first year at the University of Virginia.

I was devastatingly alone my first semester at university. I didn't know what to do with myself, entombed by my loneliness. However, at the bottom of my suitcase, I found my old Kindle Paperwhite, with both of Percy's series neatly installed for me. I made a resolution with myself: I would reread both series, reading only at mealtimes where I sat alone. By the time I was finished, I wanted to see where I was compared to when I started.

Re-reading the series was like coming home. It was nostalgia, sadness, and ecstasy wrapped into one. I delighted in revisiting Percy's old haunts, his friends, his challenges. However, it was sad, knowing I had grown up and left them behind while they had stayed the same. It was a riveting memory train which made me look forward to meals, and eased my loneliness at school. Gradually, as the semester progressed, I was reading on Percy's tales less and less, as I found my friends, clubs, and organizations that gradually took up more and more time.

I still haven't finished my re-read, and am about halfway through "The Blood of Olympus". I've come a long way in the almost decade since I first received that tattered copy of "The Lightning Thief", and I still have some ways to go. So thanks, Percy, Annabeth, Grover, Jason, Piper, Reyna, Nico, Frank, Hazel, Leo. Thank you for growing up with me. I'll never forget you.

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