For Madds in Mallorca - Enjoy!
Introduction: My little sister turns twenty today, but I am not able to celebrate with her, because for the last several months she has been studying abroad in Mallorca, a sunny isle off the southern coast of Spain, where I am informed she has a view of the Mediterranean from her "flat," as she calls her apartment. Our sole link is Facebook, and last week she requested that I "write her something pretty" for her birthday. It's the least I can do, since by all appearances her birthday packages have been swallowed in the dubious black hole of international parcel service. Well, Madds, and all you far-flung readers, here is something I hope you think is pretty.
Slice and flesh. Those are the two words that Madeline cannot bear to hear said aloud. They make her skin crawl, and she gives a violent shudder before making you feel how imperative it is never to repeat those words in her presence. So of course, when we were all little, every now and then I had to find an opportunity to say, "Gee, I sure sliced my flesh on that tin can." It was wonderful. The only thing that was possibly more wonderful, when Madeline still rode in a car seat, was to imitate a spider with my hand and make it crawl all over her face and body. She was amused for about 2 nanoseconds, and then she would start to scream in terror. It helped to pass the time on drives to grandma's house.
Looking back, I must conclude that, between the ages of 4 and 5, I was a horrible human being, to get such amusement out of torturing my sister. One of the things I am most thankful for in my life is that either she has forgotten it, burying it in the scarred portion of her subconscious, or, even better, she has forgiven me. Because if she hadn't, I really don't know what I'd do.
My sister, you see, is what I think of as a remarkable human being. (Both of my sisters, actually, are lovely beyond measure, but this is Madeline's birthday.) She has a loveliness that grows and grows, and living as far away as I do, it strikes me afresh on the too-rare occasions when I see her. She loves people deeply and well. She has a dauntless affinity for the truth. She is planted firmly on the Rock. Her whole demeanor is an invitation to relax and be glad.
Somewhere along the road, I went from seeking opportunities to torment her (or in my better moments, to protect or amuse her) to seeking ways to be more like her.
May the year to come be more than you hope for and everything you deserve.
All my love,
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