From the day she was born, Kerry was my baby. I cried when I found out she was a girl because I already had a sister and desperately wanted a brother, but I got over it pretty quickly. She took her first steps while my best friend Anne and I were dancing to the Cabbage Patch Kids record in my back room.
She wore a heart monitor for two years when she was a baby. It would go off if she stopped breathing, a horribly loud stuttering alarm: BEEP BEEP BEEP. There was a separate alarm that went off if the belt was loose, a steady BEEEEEEEEEEPPPP. Kerry took to loosening her belt when she'd wake up from a nap to let everyone know she was ready to get out of her crib. When we started ignoring that, she learned how to pull the wire out and shove it back in, replicating the emergency BEEP BEEP BEEP alarm. We'd all run in there and she'd be sitting up in bed with a big grin on her face, alive and well.
She's a sassy red head and she's been a character from the time she was a baby. Once, when she was five, she got mad at me on the bus coming home from the mall. She crossed her arms across her chest and refused to look at me. When I tried to force her to answer, she screamed out, "STOP MOLESTING ME, TARYN!" That got some great looks out of the senior citizens who frequented that bus. I am halfway convinced my picture is in the post office in the south suburbs because of that afternoon.
When she was in first grade, I got called out of my eighth grade classroom and the school secretary sent me to Kerry's class. All hell was breaking lose in the room and at the front sat Kerry in her teacher's lap. She couldn't stop crying. The teacher asked me to walk her around the playground for a few minutes to calm her down. It was February and freezing. Finally, after a half an hour of my knees knocking in the cold under my uniform, Kerry admitted that she was upset because my aunt was in the hospital having her twins. She thought that she'd have a "difficult delivery" and the doctors would have no choice but to shoot her in the head like they did to Norman the cow's mother in "City Slickers."
Six months after I got Coop, he ran out the front door of my apartment building and got grazed by a car. He ran into the side lot of my building, completely freaked out, and he wouldn't let any of us get near him. Meanwhile, a man who lived across the street from me came up, furious. He smacked me in the face with a dog leash and started screaming at me about allowing Coop off a leash. I was trying to be patient with him because he was about eighty years old, but I also really wanted to see if my dog was going to die. Kerry came out of nowhere and said, "You know what? Shut the f*c* up and go home." He glared at her, shocked speechless, then turned around and left. She's always been there to swoop in and defend her family. I can always count on her.
She wrote my favorite poem of all time when she was in third grade. A quote from it: "Mommy, you are like salami, My favorite meat, You are so sweet."
She's always been a champion for the underdog and I've never met a person who is less judgmental. I feel so lucky to be her sister and to watch her grow into the beautiful person she has become. She truly completed our family and no one makes me laugh as much as my sister.
I love you, Ker! Happy birthday.