So, my sister might be blushing right now because she didn’t know I was going to write this post. Or maybe she’s not blushing–she’s the youngest in the family so attention is an old friend. This is how she used to smile for the camera:

I’m five years older than she is. When we were kids, she followed me everywhere. She followed our brother, too, but he was even older and usually wanted nothing to do with us. Some of my friends got annoyed but I never minded. She was entertaining and I was quiet. I liked to observe and she liked to ham it up. Still does. It’s not a surprise that I’m a writer and she’s a therapist for children with disabilities who sometimes slap, kick, and bite her.

We called her Katiebug. Our favorite game was chasing each other around my bed. We called it, appropriately, “Chase Around the Bed.”

She often sat in her little chair and let me teach her everything I knew on the chalkboard in the basement.

Can you not tell our personalities from this picture?

She snuck in and slept with me many nights. Other times, she knocked once on the wall adjoining our rooms. I knocked in response to say goodnight.

That was a long time ago. She’s moving to Ireland for a year on Wednesday and I’ll miss her.

When she started high school, I was off at college. We grew apart and I lost track of the details of her life. She got tripped up for awhile. We almost lost her to a lousy boyfriend and too many drugs. What’s important is she got back up. No one forced her. We just surrounded her with worry and love and she stood up all on her own.

I didn’t figure out how much I would have missed her until she came back to us. That’s when I realized I almost had a life without her friendship.

We’ve stacked a lot of memories in the last eleven years since our first road trip, memories that fill our cups and flow around us. They scatter–were those biker maids from Utah or Colorado? Did we see wild mustangs in Wyoming or South Dakota? Did we climb that promontory in Ireland at Dunmore Head or Garraun Point? And which road trip did we experience what “soft shoulder” meant?

Late night chats in the dark of unfamiliar hotel rooms. Songs and conversations to fill the hours and the roads, past sagebrush and rocky mountains, truckers and giant windmills. Pine Ridge. Starved Rock. Dixon. We share a desire to make memories. It is purposeful, diligent, and carefree.

Don’t get me wrong–we’re sisters. We used to fight to wake the dead. She can still throw me a look that makes me want to wipe it off her face with my foot. But they’re fewer and farther between as we get older. And luckily, she still thinks I’m perfect.

She says she’s a bit terrified to move to Dublin. Of course. Everyone would be. But here’s the thing–not everyone would still go.

Slainte to you, Katiebug. I love you more than my luggage.


40 responses to “Katie”

  1. Katie Null Avatar
    Katie Null

    Jess! You have me crying like a crazy woman right now.
    I love you more than my luggage. And I always have.

  2. Exploring the Joy of Learning Avatar

    AWWW- what a great post Jess. Good luck Katie- you will rock Ireland!!!

    1. Katie Null Avatar
      Katie Null

      Thank you! I hope I rock it. 🙂

  3. bas Avatar

    Beautifully said………….

  4. Amy Valenta Dahlberg Avatar

    So sweet! Good luck to Katie!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      I’ll pass it on – thanks, Amy!

  5. Wendy Avatar

    Good luck Katie!! Jess – you are the most amazing sister!! I remember Katie looming in the hallway when we would be playing in your room. She was always so darned cute though (still is) that I don’t remember it bothering me and it never bothered you! I’m so happy for the two of you and the relationship you have formed. It will be a tough year with her across an ocean! It will go fast though!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks so much, Wendy!

    2. Katie Null Avatar
      Katie Null

      Thanks, Wendy! I knew you always wanted me around when you played. 🙂

  6. Danielle Avatar

    Love this one! GO KATE GO!!

    1. Katie Null Avatar
      Katie Null

      Thanks!! Nervous, but beyond exited too.

      1. Katie Null Avatar
        Katie Null


  7. Alison Guenther Avatar
    Alison Guenther

    I have tears as well! Good luck Katie!

    1. Katie Null Avatar
      Katie Null

      Thanks, Alison! Hopefully there will be jobs back here in our field when I return!

  8. Kate Schnur Avatar
    Kate Schnur

    Beautiful writing, Jessica! Good luck to Katie whom I met once (in town on a Friday evening) and good luck to you while she’s gone. And by the way, I see both Henry and Clara in those pictures of Katie.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      I agree. And I showed the photos to Clara and asked who it was and she said, “Me!” Thanks for reading.

  9. Kelly Avatar

    I remember meeting Katie when she was in her “awkward” stage (I was a little scared of her) and I am so glad I did. She is much more willing to get Taco Bell with me at 2AM, than you are. Let me know what dates we are going to Ireland. Love you both.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      I’m still scared of her.

    2. Katie Null Avatar
      Katie Null

      I am not scary. Quit spreading
      Rumors. “I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 31 years.”

        1. Katie Null Avatar
          Katie Null

          Ha! Never knew that was how you spelled it.

  10. Jennifer Lyn King Avatar

    I love this sister story. Wow, how fun. Enjoy Ireland, Katie!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks for reading, Jennifer! I’ll be passing on to Katie everyone’s good wishes…

  11. Katie Galgay Avatar
    Katie Galgay

    Oh my god!!! I am crying right now. This is one of the most amazing things I have ever read! Katie you are an amazing woman and have the most wonderful support a girl could ask for. Have two daughters of my own, i can only pray for this type of relationship between the two of them! Good luck Nuller!!!! Love you to pieces!!!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks for reading, Katie!

    2. Katie Null Avatar
      Katie Null

      Thanks, Newts! I am lucky to have so much support. Very lucky.
      I’m sure your girls will be as close as Jess and I are. They have two wonderful parents that will raise them to love and respect each other!

  12. Carolyn Acuff Avatar
    Carolyn Acuff

    I should not have read this at work!! Tears, tears! I remember when you were born. I have a daughter just like you – drives me crazy sometimes!! I will miss you but am so excited for you- what a great experience!

    1. Katie Null Avatar
      Katie Null

      You must be referring to Jess when comparing daughters that drive you crazy. Because I am an angel.

  13. (FL) Girl with a New Life Avatar

    So touching. You two are very lucky to have one another

    And congrats on your new writing gig. Kicking the can of writerly despair is something we all can relate to. I talk about this a bit in my post today.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks, FL Girl! Yes, it’s a big club. I’ll check out your post.

  14. deborahbrasket Avatar

    So sweet! Such a great tribute to your sister. I loved the humor too.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks very much, Deborah! That’s our family–if things start getting too sappy, a joke is called for.

  15. Marylin Warner Avatar

    You and Katie were BOTH wonderful in the picture.
    You’re going to miss her while she’s in Ireland. Here’s a suggestion: figure out the time difference, and at a certain time each night each of you knock on your bedroom walls, listening for each other, saying goodnight across the miles and time zones.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      That’s a wonderful, thoughtful idea, Marilyn. Thank you so much.

      1. Katie Null Avatar
        Katie Null

        Love it! I definitely just knocked. I have also skyped her twice today. It’s going to be a hard adjustment!

  16. Claire 'Word by Word' Avatar

    Gorgeous post, what a beautiful gift a sister is, treasure each other always. Dublin’s gonna be grand! (tell her to add that word to her vocabularly 🙂

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Yes! We visited Ireland together this summer and we noticed that food was grand, people were grand, even a bathroom stall was grand. Thanks for reading!

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