Last First Day

Dear Charisse,

Man. Just typing that sentence puts tears in my eyes. Tomorrow will be my ninth first day with you — and it will also be my last.

How was in eight years ago that mama, daddy, and I all meet at Starbucks and then took you to kindergarten? It’s been the fastest blink of an eye, faster than I ever imagined. And here you are today, starting the first day of your last year of middle school. Heck, it feels like yesterday you were starting your first day of 6th grade, and now you’re about to wrap it all up. I am praying that I savor all the days of this year with you because June will come so fast and you will be high school-bound.

Watching you grow over the last few years has been amazing. Seeing you blossom and find your people, your niche in the world, your passion — well, what more could any big sister hope for? I have watched you figure out to have young adult friends. I have seen you try this activity and that only to settle on the thing that brings you great joy: musical theatre. It’s fun to come full circle and watch you prepare for Les Mis — two years ago you were also preparing for Les Mis and for 6th grade. You’re the same person, but you are entirely different.

I am remembering those years past, when you wanted to hold a hand as you walked into a classroom, when you needed help waking up and getting dressed and making breakfast. This year, you set your clothes out the night before, you asked for Noah’s Bagels and Starbucks for breakfast, and I’ll drop you off at the cross walk. You will probably slam my car door when you leave, and maybe for the first time I won’t get mad, because there are fewer and fewer trips you’ll take in my car — you’ll be in high school next year, and so quickly you’ll be driving a car of your own.

My wishes and hopes and prayers for you this year aren’t all that different than the years past: Be authentically you. Be hilariously you (because honestly, you are so funny and quick-witted that it freaks me out). Be kind and generous and welcoming. Don’t be who you aren’t not. I’ve always admired that you are who you are, and I hope in eighth grade you continue to march to the beat of your own quirky drum.

Something I’m praying for you this year is that you have the perseverance to carry on when you face adversity — when you don’t like a teacher or you’re having a hard time with mastery of content or when something rubs you the wrong way in general, I’m praying you dig down deep, show up, and give it everything you’ve got.

Take risks — do not be afraid to fail. Learn from your mistakes and try again. Failure is inevitable but you can rise strong. Build character in this area now so it comes easier as you get older.

Laugh often. Cry as needed. Live every second of your beautiful, marvelous life this year.

I am cheering you on: today, this year, and always.

I’m so proud and thankful to be your big sister.

All my love for all my days,

Sissy

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