Until next time…

The past few weeks have been busy with flight preparations and tying up loose ends. Closing bank accounts, cell phone transfers and avoiding our feelings at all costs. It wasn’t until our last day together that it even hit me she wouldn’t be there the next. For the first time in my life I don’t know when I’ll see my sister again.

Embarrassing photos of Vanessa. PJ and her look alike in the bottom right.
Embarrassing photos of Vanessa. PJ and her look alike in the bottom right.

My sister isn’t just my sister. She’s a mother figure. When our mom had cancer the first time she checked out on mom duties with me. Not because she wanted to but she couldn’t always be on top of me the way she wanted to. Vanessa quickly adopted that role; always making sure I had my homework done, food in my belly, and clean clothes on my back. As we got older, and my mom got healthier, it was hard to get back into the sister relationship. I remember in middle school applying to get into her old high school and being so scared of her disappointment when my grades weren’t good enough. There were a lot of moments like that; fearing I had or would disappoint her. 

Once I hit prime pubescent rebellion we butted heads. My mom gave me permission to do pretty much whatever I wanted, but my sister was constantly going through my diary, phone and computer. Always demanding to know who my friends were, who I was talking to and what I was doing at all times. As you can imagine there were quite a few occasions when we had to have the whole “you’re not my mother” argument. 

It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that our relationship became a friendship more than, well, whatever it was. It wasn’t until I didn’t have her around to constantly annoy her that I realized how much I loved her. The joys of being the youngest, huh? We talked on Facebook/G-chat/text messaging all the time. We sent each other dumb videos on YouTube or would talk crap about the ridiculous things people would say in class. I think one of our most impulsive decisions during those Facebook conversations was buying our tickets to Rome the end of my freshman year. We went all throughout Italy together with her best friend, Veronica, and because of her my love of travel blossomed. 

Vanessa and I in Venice. 2009.
Vanessa and I in Venice. 2009.

And sure, when I went away to college I didn’t see her every day or every week but there was always a day in mind. Two, three or four weeks but I knew that I would see her soon. She knew I would be going home to see Carlos but at the end of the night whose bed was I cuddling in? Hers. 

When we decided to move to Uruguay it was a mutual decision. She moved because I moved and I moved because she moved, both of us equally motivated to stay close to our mom and each other. There have been moments in the past two years that I couldn’t have gotten through the day had it not been for her. Her constant support during my dark moments, being a soundboard for my crazy, and thinking even my corniest jokes were funny.

But Uruguay isn’t where Vanessa is meant to be. She has dreams that are too big to be confined here. Her ambition will take her many places, her fear of failure will give her the strength to keep on, and her love for us damn well better be her motivation. If she’s leaving me it better be for a damn good reason; joking, but no really.

I know that the next month or so will be the most difficult. I know that one day this will be our new normal. This will be harder for me than for her. This is a whole new adventure for her. She’s living out her dream, whether or not she sees it right now, and I am so proud of her for having the courage to step away from her safety net. 

On our last outing together, we were having a conversation about who I wish I could be, and she told me, “Don’t be afraid to live your dreams.” That conversation really struck a cord in me and I plan on making her proud. I love you, Tata. 

Vanessa and PJ. The forever stankface.
Vanessa and PJ. The forever stankface.
Being as emotionally distant as possible at the airport.
Being as emotionally distant as possible at the airport.

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USAmerican immigrant living in Uruguay raising my daughters the best I know how. I plan on using this site to share our experiences and how I raise my daughters in a culture so very different from what I'm used to.

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