My Sister

I remember the day that you were born.  Dad came into the room where we were playing and told us that we had a baby sister.  There was a sadness to Dad’s words, that only with the clarity of time I understand.  You were born early, 28 weeks,  at a time when babies did not survive.  You were kept warm, fed. You were born in a remote area of Northern Alberta and the physician that cared for you had just completed his training at the Royal Alexandra hospital in Edmonton, his expertise and knowledge saved you.   There was no ventilatory support, no oxygen, still you thrived and survived.  You were a miracle.

They let me see you, sneaking me into the hospital, as siblings were not allowed to come into the hospital, unless they were at least twelve years old.   I screamed that there was a pin in your stomach.  It was the umbilical cord tied off and my six year old self without a frame of reference did not understand.  They ushered me out of the room quickly, telling me to be quiet, to stop screaming, that you were all right.  I didn’t believe their words of reassurance.

We moved away from Northern Alberta to Edmonton and I thought you had died and no one wanted to tell me.  I didn’t ask, too afraid to hear the words.  Joyfully, you came home to us three months later and I would sit beside your crib,  reading to you   I wanted you to be a professional reader.  I wanted to help in the only way that I knew.  You love reading, so perhaps

I grew up and worked in a world of babies born too early.  I don’t think that there is an accident to my career choice.  I wanted to make a difference, to help.  I wanted to understand more and move beyond the screaming six year old that I was.   The world of premature infants has changed drastically since you were born.  I like to think that babies like you paved the way for all the babies to come. We learned more and saved even more babies born too soon.

Six years apart seems like nothing now, though as children, it was a gulf impossible to bridge.  I left home when you were nine.  We went our separate ways and yet there was a link to each other through the years.  We both struggled with our children, trying to find the answers to questions that never seemed to have answers.  We are more alike than different, our experiences link us greater than our family connection.

Today you came to my office and we chatted about life, marriage, children and family. You will always be the link to the past, the road to the future.