Growing up with my sister was very similar to what I imagine it would be like to grow up with Licensed Joyologist Helen Madden: complete with flutter kicks and declarations of “I love it, I love it, I love it!”
Erika (Reiko Von Suavee Bola Meister, for short) has been seeking beauty and sucking the marrow out of it ever since she came screeching into our lives, six weeks before her scheduled arrival, 27 years ago today.
To steal a few lines from the matron of honor speech I gave at Erika’s wedding…
…Erika has a very special energy about her—an infectious love of life which bubbles over into a fiery passion and eternal enthusiasm for all that is pure and beautiful in the world.
When she tastes something, she doesn’t ambivalently swallow it. She sips her wine, wafts in its aroma, rolls it around in her mouth, moves her body in a dance-like appreciation, and then looks it up online to understand its origins.
When she loves something or someone, it brings tears to her eyes…
…When she believes in something, she won’t just give you lip service about it. A champion for women’s rights, she proudly marched onto the Vagina Monologues stage in 2006, and from the top of her lungs, she boldly reclaimed…words that she believed had taken wrongful meanings.
…Erika’s not the type to take an art class as a fleeting hobby. Erika teaches herself to draw, melts into her work, and emerges through paint and charcoal to finished masterpieces that end up on display in the Boston Public Library.
…Erika doesn’t just claim that she wants to live in a world where all children are afforded equal opportunities in education. No, she sacrifices a higher paycheck and goes to work for Teach for America; she gets together with friends to form a nonprofit organization in Boston to help disadvantaged children afford a higher education.
…Erika doesn’t just wake up and say, “Today is going to be a good day.” No, Erika wakes up (on a sunny day, a rainy day, a snowy day—I’ve seen it all), throws on her music before brushing her teeth, dances around her bedroom with originally spastic moves, and then falls to her knees to exclaim, “Oh LIFE—why do you treat me so good??!!”
…Her propensity for relishing the splendor in all of life’s details is beautiful; her readiness to act on her convictions is admirable, and the general vivacity seeping from her pores is unparalleled.
Dear Reiko: Thank you for being you. Today, on your special day, close your eyes when you chew your birthday cake. Drink your milk with a twirly straw. Wish upon the dancing flames of your birthday candles.
I know you will.
Joyous birthday to you!!!
Your Big Sister
Do you know my sister? Isn’t she fabulous? 🙂
If you don’t know her, does she remind you of someone you do know?