Wednesday, April 03, 2013

On Finishing. (Sort of)

The small, skinny, 12-year old girl got the news at school. Her teacher excitedly told her that her Grandmother would be coming to get her, and taking her straight to the hospital after school. It was not the first time that the girl's Grandmother had come to get her unexpectedly, but it was probably the first time that the reasons were good.

The girl wondered how she was supposed to pay any attention through her last two periods of the day. How could US History or Chemistry be remotely interesting at a time like this? How could anything else in the whole world matter at a time like this? The minutes crawled by, one by one, until the final bell rang and she was released.

The trip to the hospital was a blur. Her Grandmother talked about the news, but also about school and friends and everything that a Grandmother might talk with her Granddaughter about. But the girl was too excited to answer questions or to listen. The drive seemed interminable, the traffic a cruel joke, and the search for a parking space completely maddening. But finally, after what seemed like weeks, the elevator bell dinged, and they stepped out into a bright hospital hallway. Fighting her desire to run as fast as she could, the girl walked ahead of her Grandmother, counting the rooms one by one until she get to the one she was looking for. Bursting through the door, she saw her stepfather, normally so surly and stern, beaming. Her mother, seven months since her last drink ever, lay in the bed, looking very clearly tired, but the happiest that the girl ever remembered, or would ever remember, seeing her.

And in her arms, swaddled in striped hospital blankets, was the most perfect little baby girl that the World had ever seen. Just a fat little face, and two bright blue eyes barely visible through half-closed lids. The girl fell in love in an instant, and moments later, sitting quietly in a hospital chair holding her new little sister, the girl promised very quietly, to herself, that she would never leave that baby, and that she would never let anyone hurt her.

I did leave her, for a little while. But today, exactly eighteen years after my Grandmother picked me up at school to take me to go meet my new little sister, I think I have done a pretty good job of living up to my promise.


Yup, today is Munchkin's EIGHTEENTH birthday. My little baby sister, who stopped being a baby a long time ago, is now officially an adult by every measure. That little, tiny lump of perfection, with the heart shaped face and the big blue eyes, is now a brilliant, gorgeous, college-bound, globe-trotting adult with a very real place in the world that she is growing to understand by the day.

In addition to being a symbolically important day, it has some very real importance as well. Most obviously, as of today I am no longer her legal guardian, and I am back to just being her plain old sister:-). I filed my last report with the Illinois family courts last month, and am no longer subject to the supervision (or a potential surprise visit!) of the child services authorities in either Illinois or Massachusetts.

And in the event that something really bad were to happen to me, she is no longer subject to a court's ruling on where she can live...she can pick her own spot. So, a week ago, if I got hit by the proverbial beer truck, her guardianship would have been the subject of a legal ruling (with her brother almost certainly being named her guardian). Today, if the same beer truck hits me, she can make up her own mind on who she wants to live with.

I am probably going to keep an eye out for any beer truck today, just to be safe, but I would be lying if I told you that I hadn't always had a little nagging worry that something would happen to me and she would get swept back to Chicago. I never did get her brother to completely promise to move out here and keep her where she is. But today, none of that matters, because I have a full-fledged adult on my hands!

(Well, except for her education Trust, which she doesn't get control of until she turns 25...hee hee:-))


Our Happy Married Life... said...

beautiful. You are a wonderful sister, my friend! Happy birthday to the luckiest girl in the world. :)

A said...

Oh, today is the big day! Happy Birthday to Munchkin! What a lucky girl to be born with a big sister who loves her so. I hope you both have a big, wonderful celebration tonight. YAY!

Kari said...

Congrats! You have done a wonderful job being a sister and a parent. Don't think you will ever be "just a sister". Hope Munchkin has a wonderful day.

Lori S-C said...

You've done good....
be very proud.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Munchkin! And happy return to your sisterly role! I am sure you're the best big sister ever :)

Brian said...

This is an absolutely brilliant post!

A belated happy birthday to Munchkin!

Most importantly, congratulations on everything you have done over the years to provide the opportunities you often talk about for her.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

That's a pretty awesome milestone - go MUNCHKIN!

cindy said...

Happy 18th belatedly to Munchkin!

I'm dying of curiosity...did she read this? How did she respond to your reminiscing post about the first day you met each other?