In September 1989 I was in the second year of university in Birmingham (England). My parents and little sister were still living in Spain. It was the Autumn term and my Dad called to tell me that my mum was pregnant. WTF. I remember saying that I was supposed to be the one telling him about my failed contraception methods. This is not information that is easy to compute. I had just left home and they were starting again? So it is that I have a little sister who is 21 years younger than me. I call that irresponsible parenting.
Little sis was born around the time of my exams, so I didn't get to see her until she was about six weeks' old. Mum and the (newly appointed) middle sister flew to Heathrow and I was handed a bundle of baby with the words "meet your sister". Nope. She may have arrived, but without having experienced the build up and birth, this little baby was just that, a baby. I was prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt, but the sister thing was going to have to evolve. Most sisters and brothers arrive proximately enough with your own birth to merge with your consciousness. This one was literally thrust into my arms. It almost felt like an act of revenge.
I worried a lot how I could be a big sister to her across countries and a whole generation. I used to try and imagine her all grown up and wonder what that would be like. It was a bit like trying to imagine infinity, or the vastness of space. I could never get my head around the fact that when I was FORTY (i.e. OLD), then my little sister would be TWENTY. How would we ever get to know each other properly?
Anyway, twenty five years on I no longer have to imagine her because she is indelibly present. Even across the age gap, I can see our shared genes as much as I can see our diffferences. The fact that we were not brought up together is just how it was, but those shared genes and a sense of humour and a lot of unconditional love is really all that matters.