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She is gracefully humble, and vigorously determined. When she leads, she listens. When she has a vision, she executes it with poise. When she succeeds, she does not seek recognition.
She is musically inclined, and impressively articulate. She writes songs on a whim — often as a joke. Yet her abilities to tap dance, sing, learn the piano, play the ukulele, and compose acapella arrangements are not to be reckoned with. Her talent is raw, but not natural. She works for it. She works through the night and into the morning.
She picks up the phone when a friend asks for help, even though she still has three pages to write. She does this elegantly. The friend will never know that they are being disruptive. She makes the friend believe that they are the most important person in the world. To her, they are. She has enough room for them in her big heart.
Her long wavy dark brown hair is stained with bleach at the bottom, the remnants of what was once purple. Her eyes are big and brown. Her brows are thick and bushy, but shaped with intention. Her skin is soft and her cheeks are tinted pink. Her style is having no style, and not caring to have one.
She is strikingly beautiful.
When she speaks, she smiles. When she laughs, she throws her head back and lets a high pitched belch flow from her stomach to her mouth. She is effortlessly witty and genuinely hilarious. She is fun to be with, and difficult to be apart from. She is deeply emotional but impressively strong. She is thoughtful. When she tells you she’s sorry, she means it.
She will remind you to tell the waiter about your severe nut allergy, and she will ensure that those around you wash their hands after eating walnut banana bread. She will check in on you when things are steady and fine, and she will be there for you when things are not. She advises you when you suffer through heartbreak, although she is younger than you. She carries herself with an ease and confidence that often masks her youth.
She is loyal. She is unique. She is magnificent.
She is my sister.
Jackie and I grew up loving to love each other.
We have managed to stay close throughout our lives, despite a two and a half year age gap.
When we were younger I slept on the top bunk above her. If I blew my nose into a tissue, I would crumble it up and throw it down onto her exclaiming, “it’s snowing!” I would hang my head over the banister and let spit fall out of my mouth right until I could suck it back up as a fun way to annoy her. I would hit her and tell her that I was only doing it to prepare her for the “real world.” When we played chef, I was the master chef and she was always my assistant. She never let my mischievousness deter her from being a supportive and devoted sister.
Now, she is seventeen, and I am twenty. When I ask her if I look fat, she says yes if that is what she believes. When I ask her for advice, I trust what she says.
Studies have shown that older siblings learn emotions such as empathy from the younger, and that siblings who report feeling close to one another tend to either graduate college or drop out as a unit. But other studies discuss the perils of sibling rivarly, which is most common in children of the same sex, and the relational detriments it can cause. In its simplest form, family jealousy between siblings is a mere competition for resources.
Sigmund Freud believed that sibling rivalry is rooted in the infant years. He wrote, “The elder child ill-treats the younger, maligns him and robs him of his toys; while the younger is consumed with impotent rage against the elder, envies and fears him, or meets his oppressor with the first stirrings of a love of liberty and a sense of justice.”
Genesis 4 in the Old Testament tells the story of Cain, who murders his brother, Abel, out of jealousy because Abel receives more love from G-d. The T.V. show Shameless reveals the competition that naturally stems from monetary and emotional stress within a large family. The film Step Brothers derives a plot from an unlikely sibling pair and their subsequent hilarious rivalry. It is evident that competition amongst siblings is more than common in any society.
Jackie and I have had to share plenty. The love of our parents. The recognition of our high school peers and teachers. The attention of our friends. The similarities of our looks.
Despite what all the stories and research findings say, I am inclined to praise her and rarely resent her.
Somehow, I admire Jackie without envying her. Perhaps it is because we are like-minded with different hobbies and personas. She is quiet and humble, I am loud and flamboyant. She is a musician, I am an athlete. She likes Broadway, I like R&B. She is patient, I am irritable. Although, recently we have adopted each other’s traits more than we used to. We run together in the park and proceed to stay up until the break of dawn composing and recording songs. She is now the louder voice at the dinner table while I silently admire her theatrics.
We complement each other without detracting from what makes us feel like novel human beings. We communicate without words. We laugh without jokes. We dance without cues.
This is an ode to Jackie.
My teacher, my beatbox, my lawyer, my sister, and a piece of my heart.
Without she, there is no me.