To my sister,

I was five when I pushed you out of the way so mom would hold just me, not you. It must have made you sad.

You let me anyway.

I was seven when I fell off while riding your bike and broke it even when you had warned me I was too little. It must have made you upset.

You comforted me anyway.

I was 10 when I wore your favorite t-shirt, without asking you, and stained it with ink. It must have made you mad.

You allowed me to borrow all your clothes anyway.

I was 13 when Daddy died. I cried, I lashed out, and I treated you like you owed me the love we had lost. You must have been heartbroken too.

You chose to mend my heart anyway.

I was 16 when all I wanted was a big party for my birthday even though I knew mom was exhausted and depleted. You must have wanted a party too.

You sacrificed your celebration for mine anyway.

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For as long as I can remember, you have put me before you.

My needs before yours, my happiness before your joy.

You woke up early every morning, even on days that were mine, so I could get a few extra minutes of sleep while you dressed up in our shared bathroom.

You let me hog the fan on hot summer nights when the air conditioner all but gave out so my oblivious slumber would not be disturbed.

I haven’t forgotten, sweet sis, all the times you meticulously dolled me up. And then rushed to get ready yourself, often getting told off for making everyone late.

I haven’t forgotten, the midnight treats and the late-night snacks even when you were done for the day, you made time for me

I haven’t forgotten when you ardently supported me on my journey to study in a foreign country even though it meant crushing dreams of your own.

I haven’t forgotten the sleep you sacrificed for my firstborn when you took the middle-of-night feedings so I could get some rest. And snuggled with your niece when I was drained.

You did it out of pure love, for me and her, knowing I could never repay.

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And then again, when your nephew came along,

When you cooked my meals, cleaned my house, wiped my tears—all while caring for your own little one.

You did it so willinglywithout complaint, without hesitation.

My husband says you are the one who has enabled my childish demands. He says I am spoiled because you never said no to me. He believes he has so much to live up to because you have always gone out of your way to make sure I was content.

Me before you, every year.

In the past, the present, and the future.

I have taken it for granted.

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And that likely will not change.

Because I know, even when I am at my worst, you will emerge from the shadows and hold me ’til I regain my balance.

I was today years old when I realized I could have been the girl who was bitter, angry, and vindictive.

But, no, instead I am the woman who understands selfless love when she sees it.

Because I have the greatest big sister in the world who shows me what it looks like every single day.

Zehra Naqvi

Mama of 2. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Just getting by, one chocolate bar at a time.