My little sister, the hippie, is not so little anymore. She will soon be celebrating her second wedding anniversary, is a homeowner, and every morning wakes up to teach other people’s children. She is the teacher with a roomful of amphibians and who buys her own children’s books to supplement the class’s budget. At her wedding, she was the bride whose students danced with her on the dance floor and she was often toting one or another of them on a hip against her fluffy white gown. She is pretty amazing, and all the more so because she was my younger sister all her life and the kid who skipped school and partied and has somehow gracefully become a wife to her high school sweetheart and puts her tiny dog in sweaters.
A month or so ago, she showed up for family dinner at the parents’ house in Atlanta with some news. She and her husband, let’s call him Coors Light, were going to make my very excited mother a grandmother. Despite the Hippie’s worries about “quality,” they had done the deed and verified it with three home tests- Baby Light was definitely on the way.
Rather than wait the compulsory three months, they shared the news with the whole family and made sure to dial me in from Pittsburgh. My other sister, the Yuppie, and I were in a stiff battle to be the best aunt this kid could ever dream of, including an escalating price war for the right baby gifts and visions of bulk airfare purchases in my future.
Then, one day in the middle of the workweek, the Hippie called my cell phone. She never calls in the middle of day, so I called her back immediately. And there she was on the other end of the line, my little sister, in tears. At her second doctor’s appointment, they informed her that unfortunately, the baby didn’t have a heartbeat. She would miscarry. And Baby Light would not be along in time in for Valentine’s Day for she and her high school sweetheart.
I insisted she call me any time she needed anything. I called the Yuppie to insist she keep me informed if there was anything I could do. I was humbled to find that Coors Light had called off work for two days to be with my sister so they could mourn together. And I was at a complete loss… what can a sister do from several states away when her little sister’s heart is breaking?
After a thorough family survey to double-check and with a month or so behind her, the Hippie is apparently doing ok, all things considered. She and her husband are still in their twenties and have time to try again and there’s no sign that she has any reason to worry they won’t be able to have a healthy child. Just not this child.
But, nonetheless, Baby Light was a dream they shared. And we all shared it along with them for a few brief months. And there is no manual for how to grieve when you’re a big sister grieving from far away. I think it’s time to make a visit home soon. I miss my baby sister. Even if she is all grown up now.