Just went shopping for Sadie’s first birthday. It’s rather surreal that she’s already one… I know it’s cliché, but it really only seems like just the other day that she was born.

She’s a funny little squirt — much more light-hearted & carefree than Maggie’s ever been. She loves nothing more than to do things that she knows will get a reaction, from making silly faces to deliberately antagonizing her older sister. Maggie, on the other hand, never smiled as easily, & even as a tiny baby was very solemn. I’ve often called Maggie our “old soul” — she’s carried our entire family on her tiny baby shoulders since even before her birth. We used to actually call it “Maggie Therapy”…. have a wretched day because your mom died & you can’t sleep & you hate your job & you want to off yourself? Here, hold Maggie for an hour.

Sadie’s also a bit inflexible — she likes certain people, certain places, & she prefers her own house to all others. At church, Jennifer & Tom have had to make the parental “Walk of Shame” multiple times to collect Sadie from the nursery because she won’t stop shrieking until her mother or father holds her. She’s infamous with the nursery staff. Maggie, from the time she was born, has been passed around & shuffled from place to place. She was born two weeks before Mama died, & her birth was swallowed by the monsoon that was terminal cancer. Jennifer gave birth, checked out of the hospital, & immediately resumed her role as one of Mama’s caregivers. Maggie didn’t have the option of being inflexible, of preferring certain people over others, of screaming until things resolved themselves. If she had chosen that route, it wouldn’t have mattered.

Jennifer has voiced that she’s enjoyed Sadie’s “babyhood” immensely, because it’s normal. Maggie’s was fraught with anxiety & grief. In many ways, Sadie is a “normal” baby — she coos & giggles & waves her chubby hands without a care in the world. Maggie, on the other hand, has been our “portal” to Mama on many occasions… it’s like her grandmama Denise has a special relationship with her namesake that’s comforting for those of us who miss Mama every day.

Maggie has a hard time with the attention that Sadie receives. The more we laugh & interact with Sadie (or other children), the quieter & more withdrawn that Maggie becomes. She’s not a performer, or a ham, & she pulls inside herself. It hurts my heart, that quietness. I just want to hug her & kiss her & tell her I love her. Sadie is easy to snuggle, with her fat cheeks & busy hands. Maggie is sometimes prickly, complicated. She thinks & listens & worries. She bites her lip constantly, a nervous habit that I share. I worry that she absorbed some of the angst & anguish that we radiated during her first year of life… that our “Maggie Therapy,” while life-saving to us, was harmful to her.

When I shopped for Sadie today, I couldn’t help buying for Maggie as well. I plan to tell her that it’s a “Big Sister” gift, because she’s such a good big sister. I never want her to feel overshadowed, or wonder about her place in our family. My love for Sadie is very simple — she’s funny & loving & snuggly & so cute I just want to pinch her little cheeks. It’s hard to be grumpy when Sadie’s in the room… she’s just so naturally comical. My love for Maggie is more complicated — I love her with a part of my heart that belonged to Mama. She’s my 3-yr-old kindred spirit. Sometimes, in the midst of playing, her eyes are much older than her age — it’s like she’s experienced much in another time.  So many times, she does things & I hear Mama say inside my head “Queenie, she reminds me so much of you.”

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