Katie

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.

Ireland!

My sister and I are thrilled to share our Ireland experience with you. Please enjoy photos of the places we visited:

Navan

The heart of Navan:

Then it was off to Galway…

…where we ran into Judy and James:

We were able to visit an ancestor’s cemetery plot:

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And we were lucky enough to see the inside of an 18th century church our ancestors built:

 

Clare was one of the most beautiful counties we saw:

 

After one long day of sightseeing, we grabbed coffee at the local eatery:

In Kilkenny, we stumbled upon a store where we could buy not only wallpaper, but a wedding gift as well:

And, of course, we circled Dublin:

Our photos probably can’t do Ireland justice, but hopefully this final shot taken from our departing plane will encourage you to visit the island yourself:

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*Katherine Null contributed to this post.

**Actual photos to come.

Back to Real Life

Morning, all!

I have wonderful stories to share about Ireland–some I’ll tell you directly, some will be masked behind other things  for the sake of other people’s privacy. I will get to them, but this morning I am off to LASIK surgery. Please keep your fingers crossed for me. Please.

I’ve got some other grand (to borrow an oft-used word from the Irish) stories lined up this month. But for now, I’ll leave you with this, from County Kerry:

Ireland, Here I Come.

Tomorrow, I leave on the vacation I’ve wanted to take for years: road-tripping Ireland. And with my sister to boot.

I had grand plans to blog from the road about all the wonderful things I’ll be seeing but, really, I’ve decided it’s better to savor it for myself while I’m there instead of rushing to my computer to document it.

So wish me luck driving on the wrong side of the road, and I’ll see you in August.

PS. If you have any advice or suggestions, let me know in the comments!