I was a junior in high school when my mother told us she was pregnant again. I had, at the time, four sisters and a brother (I’m the eldest), and that was more family than anyone in my high school class had. It was a little odd. Nobody else in my circle of friends could really remember very well the last time their own mother had been pregnant. And there were some mixed feelings, even in the family.
Maybe Mom knew the sex of the child – this was back when it was much easier not to know – but if she did, she never told. It was a girl – #5, last of seven siblings. On September 25, Diana was born. I was 17. Before her first birthday, I was at BYU. Before her second birthday, I was in Hungary. I got married when she was 5. How much relationship can you have with someone that you’ve seen for less than three months – over a period of four years – since she learned to talk?
But Diana and I had something a little different. When I was gone for two years to Eastern Europe, my folks would point to my picture and ask Diana, “who is this?” and she’d say, “Kwis”. Then she’d say, “Kwis play ball?” (I did play a lot of basketball). I spent a lot of time with her when I was home, and we just got on well together. There was something about her.
It wasn’t just that she was cute – though she definitely was – but she had a way of lifting my spirits that was different from any of my other siblings. When Jeanette and I were back in D.C. doing an internship the first year we were married, I ate breakfast with her a lot. It was a great way to start the day. She always spent time with older people, which was natural, considering that all her sisters were much older than she. She had her fights and her problems with my brothers and sisters; she wasn’t perfect. But we never had any, because I wasn’t there. We never fought. The minutes we had, we cherished.
She grew up in Virginia, and Jeanette and I raised our faily in Utah. We saw each other rarely until Mom and Dad moved the family to Utah in 2002. Diana was, to put it mildly, not happy about it. She wasn’t the same as other teenagers, and she knew it. She never just “dated”, she told me. Her brothers and sisters were all married. She wanted to be married, too. She was always a little older than her peers. I loved spending time with her here. We had her in our home for Christmas morning, the most wonderful time of the year. Alexander, our oldest, is just seven years younger than Diana, and he’s never had a big sister. He loved it. All our kids loved it. She was wonderful.
Diana worked for me for a few months when I was just getting started in the mortgage business. She was my secret weapon. She types a mile a minute, faster than anyone I ever saw. I’d make calls during the day, then she’d come home from school and come over to the office in Draper and put all the information into the computer, print out the package and get it our FedEx. She made friends immediately, all of them much older than she was, but she was always doing that. She’s one of the friendliest people on earth. By the second month of our working together, I was #1 in the company. I was never out of the top 2 any month after that. Diana wasn’t the only reason, but she was a big reason.
A couple of years later she met Ben Edgell. I have to ask Ben’s forgiveness, because I was a little cool toward him when Diana introduced him. Two reasons for this, one of them totally irrational: 1) nobody was ever going to be good enough for my littlest sister, and 2) he was a Virginian and bent on remaining so. That meant no more sleepovers with our kids, no more having Diana type up my stuff. Back to seeing her once a year or so. I hated the thought of it.
But Ben was the right man, and he’s proved it. There are great depths in him. He loves my sister more than I do, and I didn’t think that was possible. I’m grateful to him for the care he takes of her. I’m proud that he’s my brother. And if we don’t see each other very often any more, the time we do have is good, and I’ll take it.
A couple weeks ago my sisters Melanie and Elizabeth (and my sister Catherine’s husband Scott) ran with me in a 5k in Draper. I called Diana when we were done and told her I wished she’d been able to run with us. We don’t talk a lot, but we do talk, here and there, when it’s important. We keep the connection. We’ll always have it.
Life has a way of going on merrily whether we like it or not. This year, my littlest sister turned 21, and I didn’t call her on her birthday. I don’t think I’ve missed calling on her birthday in many, many years. I’m sorry, D. I won’t miss again. Please don’t think it wasn’t important, that you’re not important. You are. This is my penance and my apology. Please forgive me.
Happy Birthday, little D. I love you, forever and ever.