It was 1998. I was sixteen. My sister woke me up at 5:30 in the morning. I asked her how she was feeling and she said “Today is the day.” I asked her how she knew and she told me her water had broken a few hours ago. I shit my pants. She told me it was okay and she already took a poop that morning so she didn’t to it “on the table.” What a relief! I wondered why the ambulance wasn’t there, but she was in no rush and calmed me down like she always did. I couldn’t stand the anticipation. Then I remembered I had Mrs. LeCann’s English midterm… I was off to school. Crap!
I had a beeper on me (it was so not mine), since this was the 90’s. I rushed through my midterm, checking my state-of-the-art device as many times as possible…. but if you know me, you know that I have a rough draft and then 6 re-writes to make before I put it in that little blue book. The buses pulled up and my pen was still going. I was the last one in the room and started to cry. Mrs. LeCann was stern but sweet (as always), “what’s wrong? she asked” I sobbed, “My sister is having a baby.” She said “They won’t leave without you.” I finished perfectly (totally got an A+, tears and all) and got on my bus just as it was pulling out.
I got home after what seemed like hours, but no one was home. I was a disaster. Finally, my mom called. They were at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, NY, but no one wanted to leave to come get me. I was devastated until I heard my hot rod mom pull up outside the house. I hopped in the 1984 Thunderbird T-Top Coupe and sped off towards a very different life.
She was born around a quarter after 4 pm. The doctor (finally) came to us.” She’s a healthy baby girl! Mom is doing fine.” I almost died… pretty sure I cried and almost passed out (since there was so much blood on his pants). We called my dad and let him know he was a legit grandpa. We were finally let into the room and I got to hold her at last. What an ugly little alien baby she was! She was a little lump in my arms with an open top stocking on her head… she had blood in her hair and water logged skin, and I have never been so in love!
That first summer, I was the babysitter. We’d wake up around 8 so she could eat. Every once in a while she’d sleep until 9. I always wore a “puke shirt,” since she’d spit up all over everything. I never cared. Every morning she would sleep on my heart, like a peaceful kitten (and you know how I feel about kittens). She barely cried, since she never left my arms, and was spoiled with all the Auntie love that I never knew I had in me. Everyday she would change and grow, even if it was just a little mutant being… I saw it. She was bigger and stronger, and more loving, and curious every day. She was almost mine for that first summer.
One night, I was on the phone with a friend (who was a super hot boy I had known since forever), and I was babysitting my sweet little buzz kill. I had the cordless phone on one shoulder and was resting her in my lap, bouncing and playing (and probably chatting about how adorable this little lump was) when suddenly, my entire lap was filled with warm liquid. “Hmmph,” I though. “Oh, she peed on me.” But seriously, what baby pees that much? I took her upstairs to change her (still on the phone with my hunk) and I then discovered the ridiculous amount of urine was caused by a ridiculous amount of pudding textured shit in her diaper. Being the super human baby-nanny that I thought I was, I stayed on the phone and proceeded to get “pudding mush” in her hair, my hair, on both of our arms, the wall, the changing table, my shoes, my face, her face, etc. Needless to say, my phone call was cut short.
There were many nights when we’d have our “sleep overs,” She’d pass out at 8:30 and then barf or piss on me by 10. I’d always blame it on the cheddar and oreo mix that she loved so much, and really never minded that much. She once got even with one of Aunt Chrissy’s (ex) boyfriends. He was laying on the floor tossing her around like the little bear that she was… and she puked right in his mouth and all over his face. It was brilliant. Still passing around mad props to her for that one.
By the time I graduated High School, she and Annie were married and whisked away to their next grand adventure in Texas. I have (honestly) never fully recovered from the parting, but never saw how 2,069 miles (about 31 hours) could make all that much of a difference. And it sure as hell didn’t.
My sweet little Miss grew so big so quickly. She’d come around every now and again ( and I’d travel to wherever she might be) and we would have our sleepovers, minus the puking and peeing. She once told me that I needed to “grow up,” and somehow everything made sense after that. She’d ask me hard questions like, “Aunt Stephie, is there a God?” or “What’s a period?” And I’d always answer, “Well, that’s something your parents should tell you about first, but ask me again when you’re 16. I can’t influence your ideas just yet. When you’re 16, then we can talk.” I never actually thought that she’d ever be 16. Crap! Now I have to answer these questions…. and probably a few dozen more.
Well this little nugget grew and grew and wouldn’t stop. She tricked me once into taking her to Build-a-Bear. Well, $75 later, she had a unicorn named “Rosa” with 2 pairs of Sketchers sneakers, a tu-tu, a Leather Jacket, a cell phone, and a variety of t-shirts, we finally left the store. Once we got home, she stripped the thing down and started to dress up her little brother. Not sure why Rosa needed a cell phone, but her Little brother looked pretty hip in his new leather jacket.
Every time I’d see my little stink, she’s run up to me and jump in my arms. Around 11 years old, she was just too damn big, but she’d do it anyway. Of course, I’d oblige and swing her around like the little rag doll that she used to be. We’d try to go on adventures at Grandpa & Grandma’s house, but all the developing in the neighborhood would bore us and scare grandma, so about 20 minutes into our adventure, a search and rescue unit would come and “save us.” Then we’d just be bored and share snarly, sarcastic remarks, reminding us that we were pretty much the same person…. no matter what, we always had each other to “get” one another.
At one point she grew boobs and I grew a beer gut. We started calling each other a “bitch’ and then we’d giggle in recognition of both fact and folly. She still jumps into my arms when I see her, even though I am now officially twice her age. She introduces me to her friends (who are all such gorgeous little women) as “the best Aunt ever (sorry other Aunties, but I am the favorite).” I told her once she was 16, I wouldn’t be her Aunt anymore; I’d be her friend. I have always been her friend… or like a big sister from forever ago, so she could just call me by my name. She toys with it, but that might be more of an 18 or 21 year old kinda thing.
Last weekend I went to VA with Captain Clam to surprise this not-so-little monster for her sweet 16. I almost cried when she came in. Her mouth was wide open in surprise of all these visitors screaming and blowing horns and shooting confetti poppers at her. She saw me and ran up with scary amounts of joy and squooshed my brains out. I never realized that she cherished the last 16 years as much as I did. Of course I popped a hernia trying to pick her up and swing her all over the place (she is just too big for all of that these days, and so am I!)… then I had as fun of a time as I could with a herd of 16 year olds in a well decorated basement.
She was born on a Tuesday, just like me. In fact, when we are together, it’s hard to get us straight. I am called Gabby, and she is Stephanie. And we just laugh. She looks like my sister, but she acts just like me (that’s where my diligent sarcasm and wit come into play). It’s like she took all the goodness that I had and mixed it into all of everything that is just a little bit better. She is my favorite lump.
All I can say, Ms. Gabby Ann, is that I hope when I have my daughters they are just like you. I am so proud of you and the young woman you have become. I love you. Happy Birthday, my little bitch (crap, can I say that in such a sentimental tribute? Yes. Yes I can. You’ve earned it.).