I was born first, in late 1969. My two brothers came along pretty soon thereafter, in 1971 and 1972. They shared a bedroom, with bunk beds that gave them more room to play (and to spread out their Hot Wheels track on the braided rag rug). I had a room all to myself, with a flowered bedspread and matching curtains. Most children would have appreciated not having to share a room.
But I was a child with an imagination that came alive with terrifying vividness in the dark. Not only was there unnamed horror in my closet, but also tentacled creatures lurking under the bed and vampires out in the garden, peering through the flowered curtains of my bedroom window at night. And there I lay, shivering in the gloom, all alone against the monsters.
I wanted a sister. I prayed fervently to God for a sister. And when my mom discovered she was pregnant again, I told her, "I don't care whether it's a girl or a boy. It sleeps in my room."
Julie was born in 1974, the year I was in kindergarten. I got special permission from my teacher, Mrs. Sugiyama, and my mother brought my baby sister to class for Show and Tell. I was so excited and proud, and she was so cute!
I finally got the roommate I'd prayed for; Julie and I continued to share a room, through several moves and numerous schools, until I got married and left home. We've also shared clothes, books, ideas, secrets. I've always felt a special sense of responsibility for Julie since I was the one who prayed for her to come, and I know I haven't always been there for her the way I would have liked. There have been painful times in both our lives, some shared and some apart. There are things I wish I'd been able to shield and protect her from when she was a child; there are painful episodes of her adult life that I wish she hadn't had to go through alone.
Sometimes when Julie feels depressed, she likes to poke at me a bit by saying, "This is your fault, you know... you prayed for me." But through all the ups and downs in her life, whether she was flying high or going through a wing of hell, I've never once regretted praying for Julie to come to our family. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.
--Goblin Market, Christina Rossetti