To my favourite damsel in distress
To my sister:
I cannot remember a day when you weren’t in my life. As I am the eldest, obviously there were such days, but it seems as if all my life I’ve had you beside me, a constant no matter what fate has thrown my way.
I do have vague memories of what you looked like as a small child: white-blond hair that was mostly cut short – our mother was a practical lady, and besides, none of us really had the hair quality to wear it long and flowing (still don’t) – big, big green eyes, fringed with lashes that were ridiculously long and as dark as your hair was light. You had knobbly knees. You were shy and easily intimidated by others. I, as your big sister, was happy to whack whoever hurt you – hard.
In difference to me, you were picky about food. Your preferred dish was fried eggs with ketchup. I sighed and looked away. You were always tagging after me, and while I now and then groaned and complained about this, I was mostly pleased. I climbed trees that were too high for you – you followed. I scrambled up to the five metre trampoline and jumped – you followed. Problem was you couldn’t swim…
I have no idea how many bruises and shallow cuts you got as a consequence from keeping up, but I will never, ever forget the concussion. You know, the time I tricked you into playing Tarzan, and you grabbed the low branch I suggested, hollered like Tarzan does, and…smacked straight into the trunk. I watched you dribble down the stem to collapse on the ground, and you were so still, so pale. We never played Tarzan again.
But we played other stuff: I was the knight in shining armour, riding off to battle the evil Saracens or the nasty French (I was constantly an English knight), you were the damsel in distress, except you didn’t like the distress part, because even damsels could be brave, couldn’t they? I wasn’t so sure – you pointed me in the direction of Joan of Arc, and you were still a damsel, but a sort of kick-ass damsel, sweet and ladylike with glowing steel within.
You were generous to a fault. I gobbled down the Friday treat, you shared your remaining chocolate with me. Well, okay, sometimes I had to twist your arm a bit, which was why now and then our parents found sob notes on their pillow: ANNA WS MEEN TO ME.SHE TOK MY CANDI. (Spelling wasn’t your forte) Sometimes you told tales. “Mum, mum, Anna is playing with matches again. I think she’s burned off all her hair.” Any pyromaniac tendencies I may have had were firmly squashed by my mother after that…I guess I have to thank you, right?
We moved from country to country, and it was tough being the new kid on the block – much tougher than we ever let on to our parents, because kids are like that, aren’t they? Worst of all was returning to Sweden – we’d never lived there, had been fed stories by our mother of just how wonderful Sweden was. She missed her homeland – we stuck out like sore thumbs, products of warmer climes, different cultures. But at least we had each other. We always had each other.
Life has trundled on. We’ve had kids, experienced heartbreak and loss, lived through all those peaks and valleys that characterize a full life. And you’ve always been there. Like the damsel you insisted on being when we were children, you are still the sweetest person I know: generous to a fault, caring and considerate, you spread love in waves around you, rarely demanding anything in return. I am sad – you call. I am angry – you call, mostly to make me laugh. I am happy – you are there to share it. And when the going gets tough, then you, dear sister, whip out the honed steel and forge ahead, a knight in pink skirts – except you were never a fan of pink, but you get the picture, don’t you?
Today is your birthday. Obviously, I don’t remember your birth, but my life is full of memories of you – priceless little gems that twinkle and shine. You are my sister, my truest friend and most trusted confidant. You are one of the candles that light up my life, a pillar of strength whenever I need it.
With you at my side, we will continue battling dragons – a lady knight and an “undistressed” damsel is quite the awesome combo – we will cry and laugh, we will still eat far too much cake (After all, what is life without cake?) We will dance like crazy to old disco songs, take long walks that leave me huffing and puffing as you, my dear wannabe Iron Man competitor, set off at a pace that has me gasping. We will, I hope, have the opportunity to yet again gambol in the waves as we did like children, laughing ourselves silly when we played the dolphin game.
You and I, my dearest sister – always you and I.
Desde el fondo de mi corazón, desde los rincones más escondidos de mi alma – te quiero. Cuanto te quiero!