When I was the delicate age of three and a half, my mum gave birth to a red-faced little bundle named Rosie. She was born at home thanks to a carefully crafted selection of delaying tactics by three year old me, and a slight tantrum from the girl next door who I was to be sharing a room with for the night. My mum’s birth story makes for amazing reading; it’s an angry diatribe wondering where the hell my dad is and how they’re ever going to make it to the bloody hospital.
By the time I was safely tucked up asleep on an airbed in my neighbour’s bedroom, my little sister was well and truly on her way. Realising they didn’t have enough time to get to the hospital, they rang the midwife who said she would try her best to get there. It was snowing, and the midwife lived on the wrong side of a hill, so paramedics were sent too.
As my mother tells it, the paramedics arrived, took one look at her lady bits and rushed to stand near her head, leaving my dad in charge of her medical care. Just as my mum was preparing to give birth, there was a knock at the door. The midwife rushed in, and my sister arrived less than a minute later, born onto the bare floorboards of the living room floor.
The midwife bundled my mum and new baby upstairs with a cup of tea, and I arrived a few hours later keen to meet this new baby I’d been hearing about. According to my dad, I was delighted, excited and absolutely thrilled to have a little sister of my own.
This obviously waned somewhat when she was old enough to steal my toys, ruin my games and get me into trouble. We’ve always been close, but far enough apart in age to have our own lives too. My sister is someone I can say anything to, who will always make me feel better when I’m upset, and who I never have to worry about looking like a dick in front of (this is important to me).
Two years ago, she disappeared off to Canada. I knew how excited she was about seeing the world (and, more importantly, getting out of Burnley), and felt a twinge of jealousy that she was enjoying life as a free spirit. She was supposed to go for a year, but soon fell in love with Canada so decided to stay for another year.
We kept in touch through messages and Skype, but I missed not being able to see her. In a weird way, I simply adjusted to the distance. I got used to not seeing her, but made sure we spoke a lot and that I knew what was going on in her life.
Last Tuesday, she came home, and I cried at the airport before she’d even arrived. Ebony came with me to meet her. Ebony wasn’t yet 18 months old when Rosie left, and though they used to play together a lot, she didn’t remember her. But excitement is contagious so Ebony was pretty excited about finally having an Auntie again.
It’s remarkable just how easy it is to see a sibling again after so long. It feels like she’s never been away, except that she’s now tanned and keeps name-dropping amazing things and places. So far, we have made fun of our parents, drank way too much amaretto and I’ve had to wake her up at noon. Just like old times.
Ebony has already fallen in love with her Auntie and keeps asking me when she can come to play again. I don’t think Rosie will stay put for long, she has a bad case of wanderlust, but I’m very glad that she’s back for now. And that Ebony will get the chance to get to know her. (And I’ll have someone to bring me Amaretto again.)