|Newborn Bia in the hospital|
|My best 9-year-old handwriting|
As a baby and toddler Bia was generally very sweet tempered, and once Tessie came along they were inseparable playmates. Though their personalities are quite opposite they have always complemented each other well and gotten along beautifully. When I was homeschooling in 7th and 8th grade Tessie was a baby and Bia was a toddler, and I often helped mom take care of them--I especially remember many hours spent watching them playing in the bath! I loved the special sisterly bonds that developed between us from all the time spent together. Neither of them remember much or any of it, but I do, and I know if I had been in school those two years we wouldn't be as close as we are now.
|They wore matching clothes for years and years!|
One of the hardest parts of living in Morocco for me is being so far from my sisters. Bia was only 8 when I left for college (and Tessie was 6) and I feel like I've missed so much of their growing up and becoming who they are now. Each summer I feel like I rediscover a "new version" of my sisters, who are essentially the same but who have a year's worth of changes behind them. When I got home last July Bia's hug felt different--she'd passed me in height, and was no longer the pre-teen I had left the September before. It's hard to see so tangibly how much I miss.
|B, Tess and Volamino in Brazil, 2006.|
Maria is a very unique member of our family, but she and I share a lot of common traits and we understand each other well. We even look the most alike of the sisters! She's the witty one in the family--she may not talk much but when she does it's worth paying attention to. Philosophical and hilarious comments that cut right to the heart of whatever dinner-table discussion we're having are her specialty! She's a lover of paper--whether it's in a book, in one of her many notebooks, or she's drawing or painting on it--there is always some close to her. She and I are probably the two biggest readers of our siblings, and we're definitely the two who write the most. She recently started her own blog, which is full of personality, and gives me wonderful doses of her from across an ocean. Bia also likes to bake, and during my weeks in South Dakota in the summer one can often find the two of us making cookies and laughing together in the kitchen. She's a private person whose mind is constantly full of all sorts of fanciful thoughts, whose mouth and manner may be calm, but whose spirit definitely isn't.
One major difference between us is the environment we grew up in. It still kind of confuses me that my two youngest sisters basically grew up as South Dakotan country girls. I think Bia took the move away from the acreage and into the city this past August the hardest, and I don't blame her for it. Every day she'd take an after-dinner walk around our property and in our woods, enjoying the beauty, the quiet, the alone time. She took me on her walk a few times, and it was wonderful to share that with her, and to remember how I used to do much the same when I lived there in high school.
|I think that was our very first farm cat, aptly named "Kitty"|
This year for Maria promises all sorts of things--a new house (we hope!), an overseas trip (we hope!), a learner's permit (maybe?), and a continuation of her growth into a beautiful young lady who is wonderful to be around and who can make everyone smile. Happiest of birthdays dear little sister, and here's hoping this year is the best one yet. I love you and am so proud of you!!