By Megan Hopps
Sun Press Newspapers
April 20, 1994 was a day that changed my life forever.
I was 4 years old. I remember standing on my tippy-toes looking through a window in my grandparents entryway and watching my parents drive away. I didn’t know how they were going to do it, but I knew they’d be coming home with a baby, my sister.
That afternoon, I came skipping into the hospital room holding my grandma’s hand. I went over to see my mom, not realizing what she had just been through, and asked to see “my baby.”
The nurse brought her to me wrapped in a white blanket. I sat down in this big, puffy rocking chair and stared at her proudly, knowing this was my baby sister. I looked up and asked what they named her. My mom told me her name was Rachel and I scowled. I remember being upset because I wanted her name to be Jasmine, after all, she was a princess.
Fast-forward five years and that little princess had become a scratching, biting, screaming playmate I had to share everything with. We could be watching a movie together and if it wasn’t holding her attention, Rachel would turn to me, twirl her fingers in front of my face and say “I’m not touching you…”
And of course, I’d try to ignore it. I’d think, “She’s done this a million times. Mom says to ignore her so just ignore her.”
It didn’t take long before I got annoyed and hit her. Then, of course, she’d scream and tell on me and I’d get in trouble. Gotta love younger siblings right?
Fast-forward another five years. I was in middle school, Rachel would have been seven or eight. She wanted to do everything with me. If my friends and I were going on a bike ride, she’d be there. If we were going to the mall, she’d be there. I hated that she was always around; always following me.
By the time I was in high school I was all about hanging out with friends. I worked, went to school, swim practice, dance and did homework around the clock. I was so busy and never home. I didn’t make much time for my parents in high school and didn’t make much time for Rachel either.
Then I went to college. I thought I would love the freedom. I thought I would love getting away from my family and redefining myself, but I was very, very wrong. College taught me, more than anything, that I loved who I was. I loved the family I came from, the house I grew up in, the town I was raised in. It made me realize that my heart was truly connected to my family in a way I had never known as a child.
After college, I moved back home, and now, Rachel’s the one who’s gone. I’ve never lived at home without her since before she was born. And, quite truthfully, our home is rather quiet. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are a hoot. They’re disgustingly in love and absolutely hilarious. They are so much a source of my joy.
But a piece of that joy is far from me, in Eau Claire, Wis. Now she’s the one in college and being apart has made me realize just how much I truly miss her.
Even though we fought all the time as kids, I love that girl more than she’ll ever know. Every decision I make I wonder how it will affect her; how she will look to me and things I’ve done and decide for herself what she should do.
There’s not a memory I have where she’s not right there by my side. When we were kids, I hated that she was always around, and now that she’s gone I can’t help but wish that she was here. She is such a ray of sunshine. She’s inherited my parents kindness and insanely giving spirit. She brings energy and positivity with her where ever she goes.
April 20, 1994, truly was a day that changed my life forever. I didn’t know how my life would forever change and I certainly never could have imagined that one little baby would become my best friend.
Contact Megan Hopps at firstname.lastname@example.org