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I believe in the whole “personality in the birthing order” psychological thing. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule but, for the most part, the oldest one is generally the most responsible, the A Type personality; she’s the overachiever who has a high drive to impress people in authority. The middle child is generally more adaptable, able to mediate, the peacemaker, a bit more rebellious and some say the most interesting. The youngest is generally outgoing, a clown, a little manipulative, financially irresponsible and let’s just say it – a little spoiled.

Now, these studies have been around for years. The first one to come up with the theory was Alfred Adler (1870-1937). The studies have also been contested on and off for years. I am not going to get into the science behind this theory, although I think anyone who has taken a psych course or two in college would be able to figure it out.

I have to say, in relating it to my personal experience, I think that anyone who knows my sisters and I would say that we pretty much live up to Alfred’s theory. Without getting too specific, I think most would agree that I am super responsible and a huge over achiever (to a fault), Chrissy couldn’t be more loving and warm. It kills her when any of the others in our family are not getting along. Lori, as anyone who knows us knows, has always been a little firecracker, is able to make everyone laugh and, let’s just say it – a little spoiled.

This blog is about her – Lori. My baby sister. I was away in California when my mother went into the hospital and subsequently passed away. My dad was, understandably, devastated, angry and trying to hold it all together, even after being told that the love of his life was not going to make it. Chrissy, God bless her soul, is Chrissy for good and for bad. That warmth, that kindness, that pure unadulterated love, made it very difficult for her to deal with what was going on.

As my faithful readers know, I’m all in here when it comes to my own experiences but, I will not go into specifics about my mother’s last days except to say that I thank God every single day for my sister Lori, and the fact that she was able to be there to hold it all together. She was able to comfort my mother, to comfort my father, to deal with the doctors and to keep in contact with me, all of those miles away. She comforted me, gave me the information I needed and prevented me from being in a full blown panic, knowing I would have to make the trip back to New York from California with Al and the two boys.

Lori and I are eleven years apart so our relationship right from the beginning was very special. I was kind of another parental figure for her. I babysat her, I changed her diapers, I fed her, I played with her. I loved her so much. It was a running joke in my family that if Lori made a mistake, or did something wrong (which was very rare), she would be more worried about how I would react than how Mommy would. After the dysfunctional way Chrissy and I were forced to grow up during our first few years because of our emotionally and physically absent father, it was such a pleasure to have a family that was “intact” and “healthy”. Chrissy was also elated to have a new little sister. It was such a good time in our lives.

As we grew older, Lori and I were able to maintain a close relationship. When I started college and began dating Al, Lori was only seven. She has no memory of a life without him. We took her to Toys R’ Us, out to eat, and eventually, when she was twelve or so, she started staying over at Al’s apartments with me on the weekends. I think she felt like she was “cool” and actually, it was pretty cool.

Unfortunately, Lori was only twenty years old when I was diagnosed. She was unable to understand how dire the situation was. Then, just a year later, my mom had her recurrence. I, being the oldest and the most able to understand what my mother was going through, was the one to take my mother to all of her tests, her radiations, her doctor visits, etc. It’s not that my sisters didn’t offer, it was just that that was what mom was most comfortable with. You see, another thing about younger siblings is that you tend to try and protect them. You don’t tell them everything you might know because, why worry them, too? And, although we have good intentions, I have spoken to both of my sisters since the shit hit the proverbial fan and, they would prefer honesty. Lesson learned.

So let’s get to the point, and how this blog is about Lori (which she will love, by the way!) There was a time, during this period, when I felt as though Lori didn’t do enough to help me. That she didn’t do enough for me emotionally or with Al and the kids. Chrissy was the one to come over at 5 AM to stay with the kids so that I could get to my surgeries on time (and remember – there were twenty). She got them on the bus, comforted them, took them to fun places to get their minds off of things, took them to practices, to games – the list is really endless. This went on for years. I will forever be indebted to her.

I was angry at Lori, but not on any really conscious level. It came out in ways that were passive aggressive. We worked together and I found myself talking to her in a way that I would never speak to Chrissy or to Lori prior to this time. There was a wall up, on both of our sides, and although I loved her as much as I always had, I definitely didn’t feel like we were as close during this period. It really did hurt me, as I’m sure it hurt her.

Don’t get me wrong, we had our usual holidays, parties, laughs. We did our annual tree trim. She was wonderful to my kids, when she was with them. Just, when I felt like I needed her emotionally, she was unavailable.

The thing is this. I should have been smart enough to realize that at twenty years old, she was not equipped to handle the possibility of both her sister and her mother having a potentially fatal disease. Add to that the birth order traits (see where I’m going?)

Point number two. None of us; not me, not my kids, not my sister, not my father – none of us would have done so well when my mother passed away if Lori hadn’t been there for us. She was a rock. She was solid. She listened to me cry and wail for hours. She let me have that release that for years, I felt I was incapable of having because of my “responsibilities” because I had to be “perfect”, because of my birth order, damn it!

We also had a heart to heart. That will remain private, as well. Suffice it to say that I realized what I thought were Lori’s shortcomings were just fear and simply put, age. Lori realized that she might not have done as much during that period as I may have needed but, more importantly, she realized why she was unable to . And, once again, a lot of that had to do with our birth order traits. Imagine how scary it must have been for her when both of the alpha females in her life, who she could always turn to, were in this terrible situation they might not make it out of. Needless to say, one short conversation later, it was if nothing ever happened between us. No bad feelings had ever been had. We had both been scared and felt helpless and our love was all we needed to completely mend our relationship. One call was all it took. Unconditional love.

I couldn’t be prouder of my baby sister. She is beautiful, vivacious, loving and caring. She is a wonderful mother to Gavin and I know she will be just as wonderful to the new baby on the way. I learn from her every day and I am so honored that she calls me now, at times when she would have called Mommy. We support each other, we compliment each others good and bad points and we make a really, really good team. I really feel as though she is now not only my sister, but one of my best friends. I couldn’t live without her. And, I’m pretty sure she feels the same way about me.

We are still very different. That’s absolutely fine. But, we have both made changes to make our relationship better since my mom has gone and I feel like we respect each other more than ever.

I would say, in all honesty, and this is a strong statement, that the single best thing that came out of Mommy’s death for me is my new and improved relationship with my baby sister, Lori. Lori, I love you, I am so proud of you and I know mommy is, too. You are a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sister and aunt and I love you more than words can say.

So Lori, sorry if this is “awkward” but, too bad!