Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!
I… It’s been a day.
Katie asked us to come over to visit today. She’s still taking care of her baby and she’s really exhausted – even with all the help she’s getting – which is a lot – she’s still having a hard time of it. She said something about… umm… what did she call it? Postpartum depression? Yeah… she wasn’t doing very well. I mean, she could still function, but she was a little weepy and teary and, well… wasn’t taking care of herself very well.
Sabby took the baby and started rocking it and told her to go take a shower.
She did. She came out looking a little better, but still a little weepy.
No one blames her for that – don’t get me wrong. It happens. But it’s still sad to see. She’s usually pretty happy and chipper, and, well, now she’s not.
But then she dropped a huge bombshell on both of us.
She wants Sabby to be her godmother, and for me to be her godsister. That’s why she named her Sabrina Lily.
I was pretty speechless. Sabby wasn’t. She never is. She asked why.
“Ever since I met the two of you,” she said, sniffling a little, “I’ve seen how much family means to you. Sabby, you’re like a lion. You’d tear people apart if they got in the way of your family. I’ve seen you come close a couple of times.”
Sabby blushed a little (yes, she can blush, it’s just a little harder to see), but nodded. She knows it’s true.
“And you, Lily… I’ve seen how much your sisters mean to you. You have so many friends, and you treat them as your own. You’re not like Sabby, you’re not a lion… you’re a.. I don’t know what animal you are. But you’re always protective. Every time you interact with them, they come out better. I… I want that for my baby. I… I don’t know if I’ll make a good mother. But between the two of you… you’ll make sure she’ll come out okay. Even…” she sniffled. “Even if you have to smack me around a little.”
“We’re not going to -“
“No!”, she said, a lot more forcefully than she intended, because she kind of cringed back a little. “No,” she said, quieter this time. “I mean that. I don’t mean smack me smack me, but I mean… I mean this is my baby, and I… I don’t know if I can do this. I need… I need…” and then she broke down crying.
“I need to know my baby will be safe and protected. Even… even from me.” She wiped her eyes. “Don’t let me ruin her… not like…”
“Katie?” Sabby put her arm around Katie, who sighed gratefully.
“She shouldn’t be here,” Katie said quietly. “I’m glad she’s here, but she shouldn’t be. She was a mistake. Her father was a mistake. Maybe… maybe if I’d made a better decision…” she hiccuped. “But I didn’t, and here she is. She needs better than me. I’m not asking you to take her. I’ll still be her mother. I’ll still feed her and clothe her and take care of her. I’ll always feed her and clothe her and kiss her owies. But… she needs more than I can give her. Do… do you understand?”
Sabby looked at her, and looked at me. “We’ll be right back,” she said, and handed Sabrina to Katie.
Then she took me out into the other room.
“Lily… are you okay with this? She’s… she’s asking a lot. She’s asking for a commitment, from both of us… to her and her baby. Can you do that?”
“I… If I go to live in Japan…”
“Not like that… just… to always be involved in her life, to make sure she doesn’t come to harm… in your case, to mentor her and be her big sister. I know how good you are with your other sisters. But if you make this commitment, you have to follow through. You have to. You can’t back out, you can’t drop her, you can’t leave her when it’s not convenient. Can you do that?”
I nodded. “Never too many sisters.”
Sabby wiped her eye. “I knew you’d say that, Lily. You always say that. But what makes you special is… you mean it. You have a lot of sisters, and every time you call someone your sister, you live it. You have… no idea how special that is.” She gave me a big hug. “No idea at all. Beth’s not like that. I love her, but… she’s not like that. She’s grown so much since she got to know you. They all have.”
I sniffled a little too. She patted my head (heh) and we went back into Katie’s room.
We sat back down on the edge of Katie’s bed.
“Katie,” Sabby said, “You’re asking for a big commitment from us. If we’re going to do that, we need as big a commitment from you. You’re asking us to make your daughter, in a very real way, a part of our family. We take that seriously. You know how seriously Lily takes it when she accepts someone as her sister. ‘Never too many sisters,” she always says. But that means you can’t take her away from us. You have to actually let us treat you like family. That doesn’t mean we don’t disagree, that doesn’t mean we don’t have fights, but it means you will never take her away from us or hold it against us. I don’t think you would, but… but I want to make sure you know what you’re asking for.”
Katie nodded. “I know what I’m asking.”
“I want you to make one more promise to us,” Sabby said. “If you’re serious about this.”
Katie nodded. “Anything.”
“Well, we’ll see. I want you to promise that, when you find another man, that you will take our opinions of him seriously. You… already made one bad choice, and… I will not have my goddaughter having a, well… you know… as a stepfather.”
Katie’s face contorted a little, but then she relaxed and nodded. “I hate that. It makes me a little angry. But… you’re right. It’s best for her.”
Sabby blew out a breath. “That was not fun to say,” she said. “I know I have this reputation as a lion, and Lily likes to say I ‘go all Claire Huxtable on people'” – I giggled and she shot me a look – “but it’s not an easy thing to do,” she said, rather softly for her. She looked at me. “I hate doing it,” she said, “and if you tell anyone else, I’ll deny it. But I hate having to say these things, I hate having to be a lion.” She actually deflated a little. “But I’ll do what I need to do for my family. For family I have, and… and for family I chose.” She reached down, and in an uncharacteristic gesture for Sabby, she stroked Katie’s face a little. “This makes you family too,” she said, softly. “And I’ll be a lion for you too.”
Katie broke down again. I don’t think anyone’s ever said that to her.
“But,” I said, trying and mostly succeeding at keeping a giggle out of my voice, “that doesn’t mean you can slack off at work.”
Katie giggled. “If anything I’ll work harder because I know you’ll take care of me.”
Sabby sighed. “Lily’s got a point. Work is separate. It has to be. I can’t show anyone favoritism. That could get me in a lot of trouble, legally. But… no matter what happens at work… it won’t change this. That’s all I can promise. Do you understand?”
Katie nodded. “I won’t let you down.”
“I know you won’t.” She held out her arms for Sabrina, and Katie gave her back to Sabby. “Now, you sleep, and I’m going to teach Lily how to take care of a baby.”
Katie smiled, murmured a thank you, rolled over, and was snoring within minutes.
And I learned how absolutely foul dirty diapers are.
But it’s what we both signed up for.
But I also learned how absolutely adorable a sleeping baby is. Now I want one. Sabby shot me a look, like she knew what I was thinking. Crap. Now I’m going to get another talk.
We came home after a few hours, and now all the girls are over, but I’ve been thinking all night about what Sabby said. How I always say “never too many sisters”, and how I treat my sisters once I’ve accepted them as a sister, and how Crystal’s mother said “thank you for giving me back my little girl”, and… and now I’m watching Beth and Liz and Crystal and Diana playing games in their pajamas and chattering and chittering about everything and nothing, and there’s a group video call going on on my tablet with the Aidols and Rebecca and her friends… and they’re my sisters. They’re all my sisters. And I love them so much.
And now I have another, new sister. Who’s so little she doesn’t even know I’m her sister. I guess I’ll be Auntie Lily or something as she grows up. And I love her too. Just as much. I love them all.
They just said they want “onee-chan” to come over and be a part of the group. Onee-chan. I… maybe I wasn’t fair to them. Maybe that was their way of treating me like a big sister…. maybe… maybe I’m a jerk. Maybe I’m the biggest jerk in the world. I… I think I’d better go apologize to them. To all of them.
They’re my sisters. But I’m their sister too. Their big sister. Their… their big sister. Their onee-chan.