It was a running gag. My older sister, Flo, would come in from a date to the room we shared for a time at our parents’ home.
She never turned on a light, and would say in a loud whisper, “Are you awake?”
“No.” That was my answer before I started giggling. And then we would talk for a little while. Flo protected and fought for me in ways I never knew.
I loved Flo then, even before I knew much about love. I was awed by her glamour and warrior spirit. We still have a decade between us, but the distance has closed. We have become grown women who know how to give and receive love, who have lives filled with reality rather than mere potential, who have learned to be comfortable in our own skins. We share our creative urges in lively email exchanges between Gulf coast Florida and Arizona desert. She is an ever-blooming artist, whose latest project is a steam-punk mask crafted with nuts, bolts, washers and screws. I am eager to see it.
Flo is a beautiful woman with a generous, loving spirit and hard-won wisdom. Like me, she has been lucky in love. Her Charlie is a diamond among men.
Flo’s birthday is today; Charlie’s is tomorrow.
I’m smiling at the picture of your young selves. I say to the picture, “You were cute, then, but you are magnificent now.” Happy Birthday, Flo and Charlie.