I remember vividly the day that she was born.  I remember that my mother was sitting very still that Christmas morning, rushing through the present opening for the first time ever.  I remember that as soon as the wrapping paper came off the final gift, my mother stood up and said she was going to get the baby from the hospital.  I remember going in later that day, and holding her tiny body.  I remember that tiny body in the swing, the kind you had to crank.  And we older kids sometimes fought over who’s turn it was to crank the swing.

I changed her diapers.  I fed her bottles.  I remember wondering that, if it was this wonderful to have a baby sister how much more wonderful to have babies of my own.  I remember staring into her fresh, small face, wondering what life held for her.  What did her future hold?

Who is Laura Louise going to be?

She’s going to be beautiful.  She’s going to be strong, courageous, gentle  kind.  She will have a temper the likes of which you’ve never seen, but the beautiful humility to apologize when it bites you unwarranted.  She dreams and lives.  She fights and accomplishes.  She is sure and confident.

And she’s getting ready to graduate from college.  This girl with the red hair that used to dance to her music as a two year old.  The one who tore her bows out at school, the tomboy.  The one who played with G.I. Joes and little cars.  The feisty Ginger who gave her all to everything she was passionate about.  This girl, whom I taught for many grades.  Tutored.  I helped her grow.

And now she’s blooming.

“I don’t want to go!  I know it’s the right thing to do, Addie, but I don’t want to go.”

I knew that fear in her voice all too well.  The eve of her departure for college, and she sat in my kitchen terrified.  Thrown together through very different but very scary and inevitable circumstances, she and I laughed and cried over Skype that winter.  Mostly cried.  She spread her wings and left for college; I navigated a deployment with my husband gone for a year.

We became so close.  And I knew, when the days got tough, and my heart was aching, when I didn’t think I could move forward in that black hole of loneliess, I knew who I could talk to.  Who would help me though those dark moments.

Laura Louise.

And she did.  Perhaps, it’s quite possible that she has no clue how much she helped me through that time.  Knowing I could call her when tears were pouring down my face, and my body wracked with humiliating sobs.  There was a side of me that year that only she saw.  On Skype.

She always answered my calls.  Always.

And I like to think I helped her, too.  I’ve talked her through navigating that confusing world of boys and men.  Helped her pick which classes and how many.  I edited her papers.  I laughed with her.  And I cried with her.  As she let go of home and grew into her self, I held her hand.

And then I let go.

I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, she didn’t need me as much anymore.  She stood on her own and moved forward.  She didn’t cry very often at all.  She didn’t seem scared anymore.  She was confident.

This red-haired, gorgeous woman glided onto stage, taking the audience to their knees.  Everytime.  She dazzled the crowds.  She morphed into people and lost her self in the drama.

“I’m going to go to L.A.  I’m going to act.”

And she will.  She will dazzle them and bring them to their knees, too.  She will keep her Faith, she will hold strong to her morals.  Because she’s a fighter.  She’s confident.  She’s kind and beautiful.  And smart.  So smart.  She’ll take the acting scene by storm and, eventually, she’ll make it Big.  I know she will.  Because everything she has put her mind to, she’s accomplished.

And yet I know, no matter how big her world gets, no matter how many followers on Twitter, or number of homes she has.  I know.  When I need her, when she needs me, there will always be Skype.  Because she’s faithful and loyal.

And she’s my sister.  That graduate, that actress, Laura Louise–She’s my sister.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future

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