Until 1994, my immediate family was a tribe of loud, outspoken, strong women-with my poor father at the helm alongside my mom, thrust into a world of Barbies and intricate hairstyles and hormonal mood-swings (my god, the mood swings) and tears about hurt feelings and "borrowed" clothes and all the other drama that having three daughters under 12 entails.
And then my mom got pregnant. Again. And at that point I was 11 and knew where babies came from and so it was just like EW. STOP. THAT. But I was still thrilled, obviously. I complain about being the oldest, but I love it. All of that power...
But we had another surprise when we found out that this baby was going to be a boy. Now, my parents are absolutely the two smartest people that I know. But for some reason, this outcome never really occurred to them, and everyone just assumed that it would be another girl, and the close age difference between my then two year old sister Caroline would be ideal, and they'd do girly crap together. I'm serious, Internet, when I tell you that we were FLOORED. This might be why I fail so hard at science and logic, actually. It's clearly genetic.
By the time he was two, he was into all things BOY. Josh had stick straight, glossy dark brown hair cut low across impossibly long lashes, framing even bigger brown eyes. And this beautiful, beautiful boy would sit there, all angelic-like...and smash toy dump trucks together. He broke his arm at two by trying a Batman-esque leap off of out fireplace, and at 3 fell on his head on a playground because he wasn't paying attention or something and was flung off a piece of equipment. I still don't think that we have fully exhaled our held breathes from that afternoon, waiting to make sure this tiny guy was okay. And he was.
He'll kill me for writing about him like this, but I have to, and I'll explain in a moment. I remember mornings with Josh at around 5 years old, when he'd pad around the kitchen in slippers and a navy blue bathrobe, identical to my dad's. I'd go in for a kiss before leaving for school and he'd stop me-"Only if you aren't wearing lipstick," he'd say, and I'd lie every time, stealing a kiss and leaving a trail of gloss for him to furiously wipe off as I ran out the door. He'd watch the "Today" show every morning, and he knows more than me about almost everything. I was 16 then, and I'd take him with me to my school newspaper's deadlines sometimes, him clutching my hand as we walked down high-school hallways with lockers twice his size.
I don't remember the exact time that he stopped holding my hand, but last month as I grabbed him and tried to force him to hug me goodbye as I left after Memorial Day, I realized that someone had replaced The Baby of my family with A Man. A man who wears shoes the size of canoes. A man who shaves. A man who has surpassed me as the tallest of the siblings. A man who is brilliant, and kind, and treats women well. A man who is going to his senior prom tomorrow night, graduating from high-school next Friday, and leaving for college in Arizona at the end of August.
As I looked through Facebook to find pictures of him to post, I realized how many of them are of Josh at events for his older sisters. Bat-mitzvahs, our various graduations, Caroline's vocal concerts. It's hard being the oldest, but I have no doubt it's hard being the baby too. And I can't wait for us all to sit in the stands and get the opportunity to celebrate this wonderful, beautiful boy.
I love you, Josh-I wish you the most wonderful things in life, and no matter how much taller than me you get, or how far away you move, I'll always be your big sister, and one of your biggest fans.