Today is my little sister Rachel’s 21st birthday. Unlike most 21 year olds, she doesn’t want a big celebration. All she wants is to go into the ABC store to buy whipped cream vodka to make a drink called a creamsicle. since I haven’t had a drink other than wine in a while…I’ll just assume it’s good. We’ll celebrate her birthday as a family this coming weekend, and it’ll be small and quiet, because that’s how Rachel likes things.
Because Rachel is different. She’s smart, but refuses to believe it. She’s shy and has a hard time making friends. She refuses to take pictures unless she knows exactly how many pictures she’s required to take and is told way ahead of time. She loves truly and fiercely, and gives the best hugs in the world. But the fact is, she’s different.
Rachel has Asperger’s syndrome.
|(You can’t see her in the photo, but Rachel’s pulling the wagon in this picture from last fall)|
In our everyday lives, I don’t see her differences much – I just see my little sister. The one I waited for and asked my mom about for years (it took my parents a long time to get pregnant after me, and Rachel was born when I was nine). She’s the one that made me a big sister, the one who taught me what it is to have and be a sister.
She’s also the person who will show Abbie that it’s okay to be different. That it’s okay to have different talents and abilities, that different isn’t bad or wrong – it’s just different. That it’s incredibly important to treat everyone with respect and patience, and that you can learn from everyone.
I wasn’t sure how Rachel would be as an aunt, but I can already tell she loves Abbie. For example, she put a lot of thought into her birthday and Christmas presents. For her birthday, a big soft fluffy stuffed dog that sleeps in Abbie’s crib every night. For Christmas, a my first Crayola set with a magic marker (that only draws on special paper) so she could start to draw. She paid close attention to the recommended ages and picked out great, thoughtful gifts. She plays with Abbie when we visit and asks to see her on FaceTime, even if she doesn’t want to be seen herself.
She’s a pretty great aunt, and an awesome sister.
So happy birthday, Rachel. Thank you for making me a big sister. Thank you for every hug. Thank you for loving Chris and Abbie.
And Happy 21st Birthday. I love you!