In the months I’ve spent floating in your womb, I wonder if you knew of the tumultuous journey to come or if you had felt more ready with your second child. In my mornings laying curled in a next of mismatched quilts and sheets, resisting the pull into the daily demands of adulthood, in the same age when you bore a globe under your dress, I wonder, how in the world did you pull that off?
While your friends emptied bottles of beer, you filled yours with milk – and we emptied them. Before you could post your college degree on the wall, you had our crayon scribbles on your fridge. While your professors graded your papers, you stared at Ate’s eyes, and asked if you were doing all right.
And you did. More than all right, with a trio who demanded more than most can give, you triumphed.
Do you remember chasing after me as I sprinted away from my medicine? Or catching me when I regretfully discovered that your lipstick was nothing like a cherry push-pop? Can you recall our homegrown science experiments; sometimes resulting in cuts, bruises, and on one occasion, a certain sibling’s burnt eyebrows?
We yelled until our throats tore to pieces. Toys were thrown, leaving dents on the walls. As siblings, we formed alliances, broke them, betrayed each other, and conjured the most crushing words until you ordered us to hug. We spilled baby powder on the living room floors and plucked out clouds from your pillows. We could break glass, break chairs, but never break you. Even as we robbed you of sleep, you gave us every waking moment.
When you put on the apron, we expected magic. The scents from your stove rose from the kitchen, up the stairs, and into our still snoring nostrils. You filled us with your creations – rosewater panacotta? Wasabi dark chocolate truffles? Or even just a tray of freshly baked cookies? How none of us ever grew plump baffles me.
When we reached the age of loose teeth, and later, loose morals, you steadied our walk. In a time when our proportions were only slightly less confused than our identities, you spoke of who we are. Once we outgrew you in height, you towered over us with wisdom. I would ask you of my future, unsure of what I could ever amount to, and even with just a squeeze of your leathery hands, your belief spoke louder than my doubt.
You sealed our scabs, soothed our sores, and shushed our screams. We had short attention spans, so you reminded us when we so needed it that you loved us. You held me and told me to look into your eyes. With each blink squeezing out salty beads, you whispered I love you while I quivered I’m sorry or I love you too.
For more than two decades, you watched us learn to crawl, then to walk, then to run, then to fly economy to far off lands. Perhaps now you can stop worrying of one of us chewing off lipstick, brutalizing furniture, or searing off patches of hair. At this point, and on this day, you should find assurance that we remember your love, we long for your love, and we return your love over the seas between us.
When you hold our youngest sibling, now a year old, and you wonder what ruckus he’ll bring or what questions would swim in his still soft brain, I hope he would squeeze your finger. I hope in his tiny grip, even without his ability to pronounce consonants, he tells you what we all think everyday, that you are the greatest.