My little sister called me last night to tell me she is three months pregnant. I’m happy for her. She’ll make a good mother, and her fiancé is a good guy. Someone I would have picked for her if I’d had half a chance. Turns out I didn’t need to; she managed that one without big sister’s help.
I sat there on my couch last night letting the news sink in, thinking of all the ways her life will change, all the ways it has changed in the past year since she met her fiancé. And, in turn, how those changes have changed me.
I always thought of our family as the Core 5. Mom, Dad, Craig, me and Al. We shared a common blood. We had each others backs. We were a team. But in the past year I’ve realized, it’s not that way anymore. Nor, probably, should it be. People grow, we venture out, recruit new members, start our own teams. Craig married and had a child, with another one due any week now. That was great. I was thrilled. It was something he’d always wanted. And hey, I still had Al. The dastardly duo. Our own version of the Simpons’ Patty & Zelma, minus the smoking habit and bad hair dos. We were still tight. More than sisters--best friends too. Then she met her fiancé. They moved in together, got engaged.
As an older sister I have to admit, there’s a strange kind of feeling that sweeps over you when you realize your younger sister is beating you to the altar, skewering the natural order of things. There’s a voice in your head that goes ‘whoa…wait a second…’. You look around; wave your arms as if to catch the attention of Fate, the karma gods or whoever was responsible for the oversight. ‘Hey…I’m supposed to be second…Craig, me, then Al. Yoo hoo! You forgot one! Hey! Is anybody listening to me!’ No one answered. The echo of silence deafened me. Mocked me. ‘Why would we give you something like that now? We never have before.’ Well no. They’ve got me there. I resigned myself to it as best I could, but the remnants of it rubbed a raw nerve I didn’t like to think about. Left out again. Forgotten. The middle child’s lament.
Now there’s a baby on the way. I don’t hear about it until three months in. They wanted to get over the hump, the first three months. Makes sense to me. Still…she told a close friend earlier on. She had pregnancy questions, she said. She needed to talk to someone who could answer them. Oh. Yes. Well, I guess I wouldn’t qualify. I had suddenly become the expendable crew member.
The longer I sat there, the more it sank it. My team had moved on. Branched out. Left me behind. Al has her own family now. As does my brother. I had meant to recruit, but time slipped away. I got busy, focused on my dream, making my own way. I look around and the spaces next to me that had once been occupied, now stood empty. They’d drifted off, gone their own way, made their own place with someone else.
I’d become leftovers. An afterthought. A shadow cast on a wall, stretched out behind them where they rarely glanced any more. They were looking forward. And I was looking at their backs, my hands left empty, standing alone.
I try to find consolation in the resounding quiet. The restlessness that had been gnawing at me for the past two years can now be sated. My team is in good hands, taken care of. The roots that bound me have loosened their hold. I can go now. There’s nothing and no one left to hold me in place. Everything leading up to this moment was the set up, the beginning of the leave-taking. Soon I’ll be a postcard they receive in the mail, a line dropped in an email from a place far away. They all went right. I veered off to the left.
When this will happen, I can’t truly say. Nor do I know if when it happens it will be a solo effort or not. I hope not, but good recruits are hard to find and history has not been kind to me in this regard. Either way, it will happen soon. I can see the path unfolding before me, but it’s shrouded in fog. I can’t see far enough to know how it will be or where it will go. On one hand I’m excited, on the other I’m scared. Part of me doesn’t want to go, to leave behind all I’ve ever known. Part of me can’t leave fast enough.