It’s a few days late, but today I am posting a birthday tribute post to my sister Sara!

Her birthday was on April 1st, so the poor thing grew up with teachers and friends assuming she was lying when she reported that it was her birthday every year. Poor thing. Maybe that is what made her love her birthday so fiercely–her need to defend it as a kid!

Sara is the baby of our family and has always worn that title well. It can best be summed up with one detail: my oldest sister Karen was given frozen peas instead of candy when she was a kid; Sara got Fruit Loops for breakfast.

As children, Sara and I were a team. We were often paired together. At big family dinners, we had to sit together on the piano bench. On long road trips, we were obligated to sleep in the tiniest spaces of the mini-van because we were the youngest and smallest. We created elaborate play towns in our basement and invited the neighbor kids over to play with us and our Monopoly money.

As teenagers, Sara accompanied my friends and me almost everywhere. She was younger than us, sure, but we liked having her around. We filmed movies in the woods, hung out during youth group, and went to the movies together at least weekly. So many movies. I told her that she needed to pick an actor to be her favorite, and to learn everything about that actor and see all of his or her movies. The X-Men had just come out, so she picked Hugh Jackman and committed 100% to her fandom. From then on, we had to see every Hugh Jackman movie in the theaters–and for a while, that was a lot of movies.

In 2001, we went together to Kolkata on a service trip. The trip wasn’t exactly a good one, and I found that I had to be very protective of my sister. I did my best to shield her from bad decisions made by other people on the trip. We ended up traveling home together early from the trip because our Grandma Millie was dying, and if there is ever a way to make two teenage sisters feel connected and like a team, it’s sending them around the world together, on their own, on international standby flights. We spent nearly 30 hours in the Singapore airport, waiting for a flight home to the States. It was one of the best adventures we’d ever been on, and to our relief, we made it home in time to say goodbye to our grandma.

When I was in college, she spent weekends in my dorm room and got to know the campus. We overlapped by one year, so during my senior year and her freshman year, we ate lunch together in the dining commons almost daily.

In 2006, we went to France with our Mom and followed the Tour de France. I’ve followed the Tour three summers, and the summer that Sara was with us definitely ranks as the best one. Even though she wasn’t interested in cycling before that summer, she joined in and cheered for our favorite cyclists and got involved with the drama of the race. She also forced Mom and me to do some non-Tour related stops and see things that we never would have seen otherwise. (I probably wouldn’t have peed in the woods outside of a giant medieval fort, either, if it weren’t for Sara, but that’s another story for another day.)

Sara married Landon in 2007. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. When their son Nate was born two years ago, I was living in New Hampshire but got to meet him when he was four days old anyway. On Monday, I met Sara, Nate, and her new baby Andrew at Arby’s for a late lunch, and Ruthie ran around with Nate in the empty restaurant. The kids love each other, and it is so cool that they get to grow up together. I am lucky to get to live near my sisters, and I like to think that when our kids are older, Sara and I will start going to the movies every week again.