{sierra sue}

By August 23, 2011 5 Comments

the story goes that when our great-aunt betty came to help after sarah was born, she would sing to sarah, “sierra sue. how do you do? your heart is lighter than mi-iiii-ne.” i don’t know why she sang it to sarah since i am actually the one named su{sanna} but for some reason it just seemed fitting. for years, when aunt betty would come to visit, she would sing it to sarah.

i prayed for sarah to be born. i actually remember telling my mom, “i want a sister. i have two brothers but i want a sister!” her response? “ask God for one.” i think they were already pregnant but not telling us because i’m positive a few weeks later my parents told us we were going to have a new baby and i was shocked at how quickly God heard my prayer. i knew she was going to be a girl because i had prayed for one. when they called us from the hospital to tell us that she was a girl, i was so excited.

she was pretty awesome for a while. she was basically my living doll and i took care of her. i got her dressed, i carried her everywhere, i burped her. i was seven and i loved every minute of it. then she became a little less awesome. she started breaking things. and she did it so well. she wasn’t supposed to play in my doll house (the old fashioned kind with real, miniature furniture). but she did anyway and broke pieces every time. then she started to write. on my things. the word, “sarah.” she really wanted my samantha books, so she of course took possession of them by writing “sk” on every one.

but those days were still pretty good. those were the days when i was the “big sister god.” she had a bed and i had a bed, but she slept in my bed. it was a big bed, a double yet somehow she always managed to roll right up against me. she remembers making little noises and kicking a little until i’d say, “sarah are you okay?” and she would answer, “i have to go potty, will you go with me?” she hated coyotes and their howling. if the coyotes would start, i would jump up and try to cover her ears until they stopped so that she wouldn’t wake up hysterical.

i moved out of our bedroom and downstairs when i was fifteen or sixteen, i think. a year or two later, dora moved in with sarah. i graduated and went away to college. she came and visited once and i was of course the proud older sister showing her younger sister off. but we didn’t really know each other then. yet. then i went through a few stupid years. you know, the years you go through where you are really smart and know everything there is to know and everyone else (especially parents) are just really dumb? yeah, i think all adolescents go through it to some extent. after college, i moved down south.

then she went through the stupid years too. and we really weren’t friends then. i mean, don’t get me wrong. we were sisters. but we weren’t buddies or friends or the best way i can put it, kindred spirits (thank you anne of green gables). we were just doing different things . our own things. but enough light hearted banter about sarah. (although it’s all true. at least 99% true. okay fine, 98%.)

sarah graduated with a degree in photography and moved down south and we started hanging out more. she was starting to come out of those stupid years and i was starting to figure out how you treat an adult sister. we kept hanging out. addy was born and sarah was her own personal photographer. addy’s first word was “mama.” addy’s second word sounded something like “doh” which we coined sarah’s nickname, in case you were wondering how she became “auntie doh doh.” we actually started enjoying the hanging out. we did things. coffee. then christian and i became the foster parents of three amazing girls and my life became a blur. sarah was there after work every single day. i actually think she stopped having a social life during that time.

the summer after the girls left, we spent a lot of time together. grief has a way of bringing people together and making friends even closer. but it was more than that. our sister relationship was becoming a friendship relationship. we discovered we actually had a lot in common. with the girls gone, we no longer needed a third bedroom and sarah was willing to help pay rent. it started as a financial blessing but it ended up just as much of an emotional blessing for both of us. sarah, christian and i are all “norcal” transplants and there is something to be said about “safety in numbers.” (okay, okay, slight jab at socal but it is a completely different world down here!)

last semptember, our family welcomed a little guy to foster. he came on wednesday. on monday, i didn’t feel so great and took a pregnancy test. {pregnancy test = mercy, nine months later.} little man was not so easy. we were pulling all-nighters and our hair. two weeks later, we sat sarah down and gave her a note that said, “we need you to pull more weight.” she was so serious, not sure if she should be hurt or what. then we told her i was pregnant. i don’t think i pulled another all-nighter with little man after that. somehow christian and sarah took turns with little man in the middle of the night and got up and went to work everyday. they cooked and cleaned and i puked.

when little man left right before the holidays, it was official. my little sister, the original punk, the master of tricking mom into thinking she was innocent, the middle child and i, we were friends. no wait, we were bosom buddies. we were kindred spirits.

it’s still hard for me to grasp that the Lord is calling christian and i to moldova and calling sarah to stay here in thousand oaks. who will make inside jokes with me? who will make socal jokes with her? how can we be kindred spirits when we live almost six thousand miles away. yet i know that no matter where we live, our friendship can stay just as strong if we keep working on it. sarah sent me a song the other day and it reminded us that the Lord has every chapter of our lives in His hands. the beginning says,
where you go, i’ll go
where you stay, i’ll stay
when you move, i’ll move
i will follow…
all your ways are good
all your ways are sure
i will trust in you alone

we are believing that promise, right now: all His ways are good and all His ways are sure. we are also hoping that the next chapter of our lives has us living in the same country. or at least continent.

until then, we have plans. we started a blog called a sea apart. the plan is for each of us to take a photo every day and post it, 365 + 365 = 730 pictures. we are pretty much going to be famous after next year. you know, we will publish it in a book and sell it and never have to work a paid job again. but just in case that doesn’t happen, you should probably just follow the blog instead.

i love you, sarah. i am going to miss living with you more than you realize. you are an amazing sister and an amazing aunt. i am very thankful for skype, internet and our cameras!

Marie Klein Burtt

About Marie Klein Burtt