Little Sister Clare,
I remember when you were born, slippery, blue and surprised. Left on your mother's belly for just a moment before you were whisked away so that the nurses could 'get you started' with a bit of oxygen and suction. I was still a child at the time but clearly saw what a miracle it was to have a new person arrive in the world. You grew into an incredibly sweet little thing, always thinking of others but still managing to do your own thing. The cutest example of your compassion is the time I found you, at around two years old, clutching a photo and sobbing inconsolably. You were looking at a photo of a howling baby Michael and you were sad for the baby.
As you grew into a child, then an adolescent, you continued to be sweet and compassionate, which didn't always make life easy for you. You were torn between doing things your own way and not hurting or even offending other people. And now you're becoming an adult, and I think you really have managed to maintain your integrity to hold on to a certain innocence. You live close to your ideals, you are incredibly caring and you are learning to protect yourself at the same time. You've managed this better than anyone I know, so I don't really have any advice or words of wisdom to share with you. Instead I'll give you three big-sisterly reminders:
- Look after your health - get a check up occasionally, eat healthily, wear sunscreen
- Value your friendships - look for the friends who bring out the best in you and then look after them. They will save you many times over.
- Ask for, and accept, help - this one can be tough. Asking for help without relinquishing independence, agency and personal responsibility is hard and when we need help is often the time it's hardest to ask for it.
I'm so incredibly proud of the person you are growing to be, I'm grateful for all the help you give me, both practical and emotional. I'm in awe of you and I feel smug and lucky that you are going to be a part of my life, and the lives of my children, for the foreseeable future.
Happy birthday Clare
For Clare's birthday mum compiled a book with twenty-one letters to Clare from some of the women in her life. She did the same for me for my 21st birthday and it's a lovely thing to have. For Clare, as for me, the sentiments are moving and some of the writing is hilarious. Because I think she is so great, and she is so important in my life I'd like to share my letter to her here: