You are part of our family, but I’m not always sure how. I’m told you are my sister. I’m told you were born before I ever came along. But I don’t understand how that can be and yet you don’t wander the house as I do. You don’t play with my dollhouse with me. You didn’t get any Christmas presents at all. You don’t eat our food, ride in our car, or go to school with me.
Yet I know you live atop Mommy and Daddy’s dresser. So you must be part of our family.
Up on the highest of dressers is a basket with a red velvet box. I know you are in there, but I don’t understand how. Are you curled up in a ball? Are you so small you fit lying down? I have opened the box and saw the metal heart inside. Is that were you live?
This morning I said “that’s silly” when Mommy told me it was your birthday. She asked why that was silly.
“She has no mouth,” I had said.
“But she did,” Mommy said.
“She has no eyes,” I said again.
“But she did.”
“Did she have cheeks? And a nose? And ears?” I had asked.
“Yes, Baby, she had all of those.” She pulled me in tighter. “When she was born she did.”
“Why?” It may not have been the right question, but it is the one I knew how to ask.
“She was a lot like you, Evie, when she was born. She was just a lot smaller. Too small. And she didn’t make it.”
“Too small?” I had asked. I didn’t understand because Mommy and Daddy had told me I was small when I was born. I had lived in a box so I could grow. Why didn’t they put you in a box? Why didn’t they help you grow, too?
Despite all I don’t get, I think I know enough. I know your name is Sophia, yet I can only say “–phia”. I know you are my big sister. I know we hang angel wings on the Christmas tree for you. I know we look through the scrapbook every year that Auntie Sarah made for you. I know you have a special rainbow teddy bear that sits with you night and day. I know you had clubbed feet just like I did when you were born. I know you would have loved me (or at least I think we could have been best friends). I know Mommy and Daddy light a candle for you on your birthday. I know they sometimes cry.
But I just don’t understand why.
I giggle in excitement when we talk of celebrating your birthday. My birthday was filled with balloons, lego candies, presents, chocolate cupcakes, and my friends. We ate pizza outside at picnic tables. We ran to the playground (although I can only walk so far but Mommy and Daddy say I’ll run someday). We went down the slide and flew on the swing. We blew giant bubbles and played with balls. I handed out goody bags to each friend before they went home to nap.
Mommy says we don’t do those things for your birthday. I don’t understand why not.
Instead we light your candle and eat a dinner out. Mommy clinks her wine glass against Daddy’s beer mug, and both of them tap my plastic water cup. We say “Cheers,” and “To Sophia”, but I don’t understand why.
I may not know how I have a sister when it seems that I don’t. I may struggle to understand how I am not an only child when I am. I may not understand how you get to live in Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom–all the time!–and they never make you do a thing (I have to pick up toys–a lot). I may not grasp just why we blow kisses toward your basket, why Mommy and Daddy stop to talk to you when they know you can’t respond, why you never eat dinner with us, why I alone help Mommy bake cookies, why we won’t ever share a room, why we’ll never have sleepovers, why I don’t know your voice.
But I do know that I love you. I know I have a big sister (because Mommy and Daddy tell me so everyday). I know that you watch over me.
And I know I will never stop blowing you kisses.
Love your little sister,
2 thoughts on “Dear Sophia–A Letter On Her Eighth Birthday”
I am so moved by this letter you wrote, Laura. Thanks for sharing. We hope you, Jason, and Evie are all well on this last day of the year! Happy Birthday, little Sophia!
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Thank you, Judy ❤️