My best friend was born when I was thirteen. She lives a thousand miles away and calls me every night saying, “Sissy, I grew last night,” reminding me how far apart our lives are. We get to spend about three weeks of the year together, which is just enough to cherish but of course, never, ever enough.
A month ago she called me, planning out her Spring Break, asking what to pack, where we would go, and if she could please come to work with me, she’d been practicing picking out her outfits. For the last week she’s been following me around my Jacksonville life, my constant, giggly shadow. That shadow followed me into work Thursday with a skip in her step and big blue eyes anxious to model in her very first photo shoot.
The day surpassed all of my parent trap, bring-your-kid-(sister)-to-work day dreams. As we floated around the shop picking dresses off the racks and practicing our sassiest poses, we were both high with glee. I fulfilled my “cool big sister” duties, and it affirmed what I constantly question: How can I justify letting her grow up without me?
I can do it with a lot of tears and a little stubborn pride as I clock in to do what I love every day, as I fearfully enter another stage of adulthood, and as I pursue the kind of life I hope she’ll want one day. One where she’s in charge of her own story, somewhere far away, with an admiring sissy there to cheer her on.
Photos and writing by Mara Strobel-Lanka.