Parker Nolan/Courtesy of Lily Hager
It has been four months since the day that was not supposed to come. If it was up to me, it never would have.
They told me I wouldn’t have her forever. That one day my older sister would not want to play horsie. That our dream of living on a farm together would not really happen. That I am lucky to have her one door down, and I would realize that one day.
And I do.
I realize that my sister has been my best friend since birth. She used to feed me taquitos and tell me “good job, Lily!” between bites. We used to obsess over stickers and compare collections. We used to wander in our backyard on all fours while she taught me how to neigh like a horse and the difference between a trot and a gallop.
I realize that age changes everything. It caught her first, but I could not have been more eager to grow up. Quickly, “Lily, wanna play horsie?” became “Lily, I have a middle school story to tell you.” I wanted to be like her– to live her life– because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be in it anymore. So I hung on to her every word.
I realize that though we are so different in personality and strengths, she helped me grow confident in myself. I used to walk into her room wearing outrageous clothing, asking for her opinion, and she would usually laugh but then say, “Just rock it.” When my fragile heart was first broken, my steady sister sang me the words, “I will be here, on that you can bet. I’ll stay here with you. Come what may.”
Two months ago, I helped her pack a car with her favorite belongings. One hundred T-shirts, 10 blankets, five plants, and two fish. We drove it to College Station, packed it all in closets and shelves, and ate corn chowder at a taco restaurant. We drove her to the grocery store, parked her car, and walked her back into her dorm. We hugged and said good-bye. Since I always knew she would have a perfect future, I never thought leaving her in college would be hard for me.
But when I let go of her, I walked away and could not look back so that I would hide my tears.
Even though every time someone told me how lucky I was to have her they also warned me that she would leave one day, the day was not supposed to come. I never thought it could.
The first month was long. Every time I walked into my room, I passed her open bedroom door. Sometimes, I’d go in and just stand there, look around, wait for her to come in and kick me out. Every time I drove to school I hated how easy it was to back out of my driveway without her car so close to mine. Even as I drove her old car, I was reminded of all the places she used to take me for our “dates.”
So we FaceTime. We Snapchat. We text.
Her high school teachers ask me how she is. “She’s doing so well,” I say. “She’s thriving.” But I do not tell them what I am thinking. “I miss her.” “Can you bring her back for more than a weekend please?”
Now, people tell us we are so lucky to have each other.
They tell us to always keep in touch because it does not come easy.
And they tell me not to worry because she will always be my sister.