Today my darling baby sister got on a plane by herself (by herself!) and flew to Rome. She returns on Thursday, I think; for now she is having the time of her life with an old babysitter of ours in a beautiful and vibrant city that I must admit I've never been to.
I am so proud of her; proud that she is going on a trip without the family at the age of twelve, proud that she is so resourceful and responsible, proud that she wasn't scared to fly all alone to a country where she doesn't speak the language. I am proud that my baby sister, who was dark-haired and then practically hairless and then dark-haired again, who has learned to play the piano and the violin and to speak French, who got her ears pierced, is experiencing the world for herself. But at the same time, under that pride is a hint of sadness.
Maybe more than a hint, really. Because I am used to sleeping next to my little sister whose bear lies tight in her arms. I am used to brushing my teeth next to her, smiling at her in the bathroom mirror. I am used to getting into minor squabbles about who left what lying on the floor, and talking about Harry Potter (and Theodosia) at night, and pouring her the last of the mango-passionfruit juice. She is growing up, and it's hard for me to look back on her twelve incredible years and see that she's been getting older and older, that she's turning into her own vibrant and intelligent person. And it's not that I don't want her to be that, that I don't want her to come into her own and experience life, but she is growing up.
Sometimes that's scary.