Being eight years and a few months apart, I've been like a second mom to my sister. She would agree, considering the giggles that came out of her when she opened the "Congrats Daughter!" card I gave her at her high school graduation.
After her big day in June, she stayed with me for two weeks. Just two weeks.
Two weeks to pack in all my wisdom. Two weeks to prepare her for life outside the Owens Valley, in the real world, where anything can happen.
Time is never on my side. No matter how hard I try, I just can't fit everything in.
We talked about clothes, shopping, boys, food and, most importantly, careers. She wants to be a nurse or a teacher. I told her to do what will make her happy, to be challenged and not let anyone else tell her she couldn't achieve her dreams.
OK, so I sounded like a greeting card, but those are life lessons no one tells you about. Sure, people might say those things, but do they ever give you examples from their own lives? Yeah, I didn't think so.
My sister knows that despite not being incredibly rich, I love journalism, that I am constantly challenged by the people I choose to surround myself with, and that I never once let anyone tell me I couldn't write, design or edit. She's watched me struggle to come into my own.
"I know you've been through this," she said. "That's why I ask for your advice."
While I know she has a good head on her shoulders, I can't help but wake up in the middle of the night, worrying she'll get caught up with the wrong people, because, frankly, we don't know many people in Camarillo.
"But she already knows other students and it's only two hours away," I rationalize to myself. It gives some measure of comfort.
This must be but a fraction of the agony, joy and pride that goes through any mother whose child is moving out and growing up. But I wonder: Is it as traumatizing for children who grow up in large metropolitan areas?