It's me. The youngest one.
Do you remember that joke I used to always make about how since you were so much older than me growing up--11 and a half years to be exact--I didn't realize you were my sister until the 5th grade? I probably told it so many times to so many different relatives that you probably started to believe it. However, on your wedding day, I feel as though I must give it a rest.
Because in truth, I do remember you.
I remember when you came home from studying abroad in Spain for a semester and I made you a sign, and like any stupid 3rd grader I misspelled Spain and somehow wrote "Welcome Back from Spinach" instead. You merely chuckled and proceeded to handle the sign with care hugging me around it. I remember for your senior prom you had someone from a salon come and do your hair while Monica and I sat mesmerized in the other room as she dolled you up into early 2000s perfection.
I may not have a lot of specific memories, but I remember your presence. I remember a tall blonde with long hair she refused to cut, who knew every line in Les Mis and tried to teach me how to do a reverse lay-up in basketball.
And I make that joke about only realizing you were my sister until 5th grade because that was the year you moved back home after graduating. I know you remember that time because you said it was one of the worst years of your life. You were 22, working a mundane job, trying to figure things out. However, for me, it was one of the best years of my young childhood because for the first time ever, we had one-on-one time. Five siblings and 11.5 years between us does not call for much alone time.
However, for those 12 months, we were sisters.
It didn’t matter if you were a 22-year-old college grad and I was an 11-year-old punk, we watched "So You Think Can Dance" and made homemade mac 'n cheese together like we were old pals. Therefore, when you got your acceptance letter for grad school later that year, I remember smiling not just for my sister, but for someone who had become my equal and my friend.
Therefore, on a day I hope you will remember for the rest of your life, I want to thank you for being such a memorable sister. Even though we both live on opposite coasts--New York for me, Oregon for you--I think of you frequently. When I watch an intellectual movie, listen to Les Mis, spot fellow Patagonia fleece owners, and sometimes, even during something as trivial as eating mac 'n cheese. You may not have much of a physical presence in my daily life but you are there.
Finally, Eileen, I remember one more thing.
I remember asking why you decided to stay in Milwaukee for school when you had each coast offering you the world. You could have gone to Washington or Boston but you stayed. You said you stayed because you had to. You felt you needed to be a presence in your younger siblings lives because you felt we would forget you if you didn't.
To be honest, you didn't need to.
With your 6-foot frame, stoic confidence, and testy opinions, I don't think we can forget you if we tried. Therefore, from your siblings, we say thank you for being so selfless, generous, and kind that even when you were thinking of your future you made sure it aligned with ours.
I hope you know when I get older and my bad memory robs me of our memories together in my young childhood, that it cannot take away from how those moments made me feel: loved and special in the eyes of my big sister.
From all of us, we wish you the absolute best in your greatest remembrance of all--your new life as a married woman. You must already know that you make all of us proud.