Filed in Personal, Portraits — May 5, 2021

Dear Sister

Your daughter just crawled up on my lap and laid her head on the beat of my heart. ‘Auntie Hanna, do you have a baby sister like me,’ she asks?

‘Your mommy is my baby sister,’ I tell her. ‘I was your age when she was born.’

Her big blue eyes spark and she looks up at me in wonder, as if she has never heard our tale before. ‘Oh my gosh. You and mom are like me and Esme,’ she whispers. My heart skips a beat.

I remember the day you were born. Someone ushered us into the room. I remember the tears on mom’s cheek, her funny gown, and the smell of citrus. I stood on my toes to peer into your bassinet. I remember the weight of you when you filled my arms. I had no idea the impact of that moment. I knew nothing about sisterhood. About the bond that would forever patch our paths together. Or about the deep well of love that I would draw from my whole life through.

At the wedding last week I cried behind my camera.  A mother danced with her son. Her gray hair floated around her like a crown. I thought about my Maddox when he looked at her. I wondered about the fine-lines and wrinkles, about all the stories and joys and heartache they must have endured and overcome. I wondered about how it must feel to have that last fine dance with the boy who is now man, who is your body, who is you, who is your whole heart? And then I thought about you, when my eyes focused on the woman in the background. There was the grooms auntie, the mother’s sister, eyes brimming over with tears, shaking hand cupped over her mouth. It was the same look you had in the background of my photos when I held Keza for the very first time.

Yesterday your brilliant body parted like the red sea. In pain and tears and with all the love in your heart, with a warriors holler, and every ounce of strength –  you gave life. You were the most beautiful version of yourself that I’ve ever seen. You were the northern lights ripping across a dark sky. One of my greatest honors in life is raising our tassle of children side-by-side. And now, incredibly, we have gone from nine to ten.

Harper and Esme are day 2 of sisterhood. And they have no idea. May all their trails wind and weave together. May they continually draw from the same deep well. May they be so blessed as we have been.

I love you, Heidi, more than I can even put in words. She is so, so beautiful. And so are you.


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