Hi there, Cheerbrina-
I first met you and your mom when you were a fuzzy-headed, anime-loving, Bratz-doll-playing about-to-be-6th-grader (Note to readers: The dolls she is holding are not Bratz dolls. Those were dolls that she received at a White Elephant Christmas party that will haunt her nightmares forever.) I loved hanging out with you because, like most middle school students, you were unabashedly yourself- a goofy, silly, nerd. And…you could hang with the cool adults (ahem, me).
I remember when you would chew on toilet paper that had been sprinkled with that Mexican chili candy. I remember when you and Mariah would come down and pester me at my apartment. I remember all the dinner parties with games that we had. Most evenings, a group would gather down by your apartment and the dogs would run and play and the humans would hoot and holler.
We built a family there.
As your self-appointed older sister, we’ve had all sorts of adventures over the years. Adventure days with fishing and picnics. Playing with fireworks while my son gets dangerously close to catching your hair on fire. Weekend jaunt down to Galveston. Running a 5k. We’ve had fun together.
We’ve also done some not fun things together. Remember the time that we went “bike riding” except that it was terribly muddy and I convinced you and Alex to try it anyway and we ended up having to carry our bikes back to the car. Do you remember putting together that Ikea bed with your mom? I’m surprised we all still like each other after that experience. We’ve had times where we’ve gotten mad at each other but we’ve always apologized and fixed the issue.
And we built a family.
Perhaps my favorite part of you growing up has been getting to participate in your grown up activities. Basketball games, watching you lead some cheers at a football game, seeing you in your play. I love going to these things. Truth be told, my heart wells with pride and I get a little misty-eyed. My little pal, all grown up.
I hope you never forget that I took you to your first day of high school. Your mom had to work so I got the pleasure of picking you up and playing the role of embarrassing mother, which I took very very seriously. As you leapt from my car, I remember calling after you, “Have a nice day, dear!”
Yesterday, you graduated. You walked across the stage and finished high school. Afterwards, I hugged you so tightly that you squirmed and I kissed you on your face (which you hate) and I told you that I was there for your first day of high school, I was darn sure going to be there for your last.
That’s what family does.
As you stand on the threshold of adulthood, I have so many hopes for you, dear one. Not expectations, but hopes. One of my biggest is that I hope you’ll remember the little community that we built so many years ago. I hope that you’ll remember family doesn’t have to be blood, that there are people that care for you deeply that might have tried to scare you by putting terrifying baby dolls on your porch. I hope you’ll remember that I’ve tried to be one of your biggest cheerleaders. I hope you know that isn’t likely to change.
I’ll always remember my little fuzzy-headed friend who lived a few buildings over, who would come and knock on my door just to hang out.
Love you, boo
And now for the hall of embarrassing photos…