I visited with my sister today. She stopped by on her way to San Antonio, Texas, where she is moving to be closer to her boyfriend. This might not seem like a big deal to most people, but it is for me.
You see, she's my baby sister - ten years younger than me. I also have a brother that's fourteen years younger than me. I helped raise them, and spent alot of my adolescence changing diapers, giving baths, reading stories, making meals, and babysitting.
My relationship with my siblings has always been more parental than big sister. So even though I do not have children of my own, I consider them my kids.
It is because of that bond that I've always been very protective of them. Even when I moved out and started a life of my own, I always came back for holidays, sent gifts, and made sure I made it home to celebrate their birthdays.
So when my sister told me she was moving to Texas, I kind of freaked out. All that went through my head was a million reasons why it was a bad idea. Our family has never really been more than two or three hours apart. EVER.
But then I got to thinking. She's 24. I moved away to college when I was 18. I got married and moved again when I was 22. No one tried to talk me out of any part of it. And I'm glad - because I learned to depend on myself and create my own life.
Yet here I was, working to convince my sister to stay put - to take the "safe" route, when she obviously wasn't happy, or she wouldn't be thinking of leaving in the first place.
And then it hit me. All that talk that parents spout about learning to let go of their kids, and how it hurts to see them stand on their two feet, even though that's what you raise them to do their whole lives, suddenly made sense.
I was being selfish. She was ready to start a life of her own - and I had to let her, no matter how much it hurt.
So when she called to tell me she was stopping by on her way through, I told her to disregard everything I'd said earlier. If this was what she wanted, then she should go for it and make the most wonderful life she could. I would always be here for her if she needed me.
She sounded the happiest I've ever heard her, and that happiness continued to when I got to see her today.
They say letting go of the one you love is one of the truest expressions of love there is.
And when she hugged me goodbye on my doorstep, a little piece of my heart went with her as I let her go.
Love never ceases to teach me things as I get older.