A Letter to My Sister on Her 18th Birthday
When a person turns 18, it marks the end of adolescence. Turning 18 means that virtually overnight a person has gone from being viewed as a teenager to being a legal adult. Those who are 18 years-old can vote, get a loan, a credit card, and join the military. Today is the day that my baby sister breaks free from the restraints of childhood and steps into adulthood. Sarah is 18-years-old today and as cliche, as it sounds, I have no idea where the time went. I was 21 years-old when Sarah was born, a new adult myself, and now I’m welcoming this precious young woman into the club.
Sarah, You have brought our family so much joy over the years. You love fiercely and abundantly. You’ve got a maturity not seen in most young people and I know the road to your maturity was marked with some pretty awful things, but every struggle has made you one of the strongest people I know.
When dad got cancer, the four of us older kids had already moved away from home and started lives of our own and that meant you had to step up and become the new big kid. In some ways your pre-teen and teen years were robbed from you as you spent years in and out of hospitals with mom and dad, Charlie and Sam, learning things about cancer that no kid should ever have to learn. You’ve had quite the heavy burden to carry on your shoulders and yet you’ve carried it with grace and dignity.
And so Sarah, as you officially step into adulthood, I want you to know that just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean that you’re not my little sister anymore. Even when I'm 90 and you're 70, you'll still be my baby sister. I’ve so enjoyed watching you grow into the remarkable woman you are. You’re the family peacemaker, the logical one. You might not get my snarky humor, but it’s okay- we’ve got a lifetime for you to figure out that I’m incredibly sarcastic and not actually mean.
Turning 18 means that you will start to experience highs and lows unlike any you’ve experienced yet. There will be wonderfully magical moments and there will be moments that will bring you to your knees. I know you’re going to want to try to figure it all out on your own and that’s okay. I get it because Sarah, you and I are way more alike than you realize. I just want you to know that I will always be in your corner, ready and willing to listen, talk, or help however you might need. You just have to ask. And yeah, I know about that, too. It’s humbling to open up and ask for advice or help. But I’m your sister.
The world is an amazing place and one of the best things about our family is that we don’t have parents who just sit at home all the time. They’ve taken us to some incredible places but now is your chance to go even further and see even more. Do it, Sarah! Explore the world. Meet new people. Learn about new cultures. Soak in every sight, sound, smell, and experience because understanding people who are different than you will be your greatest career tool. Tolerance and understanding will take you far in life.
I’m not going to dispense a bunch of advice because you’ve got two big sisters who’ve made our share of mistakes for you to learn from and I know that you have. You’re way stronger, courageous, and determined than any other young woman I know. You value hard work and you’ve got a tender, God-fearing heart. You’re going to be just fine my Mae Face. Just fine. But remember- if anyone messes with you and if you need some backup, I’m a ferocious ankle biter!
I love you, Sarah. I love you so much. Happy 18th birthday and welcome to the next chapter of your life!