First thought this morning as I was feeding that cat: I have officially lived a greater number of days than my sister. My days have not been necessarily better that hers, or fuller. Nor have they contained more love and grace — I am simply noting that I have now lived more of them. She was the only daughter in a houseful of brothers for several years; she was favored in my parents’ behavior because of a chronic illness; and as is the wont in most family hierarchies, since she was an older sister, it fell to her to be second-in-command after my mother. Her shadow cast itself over my entire childhood and I admit that all this past year she has been in the back of my mind. She died when she was 58. Today I turn 59.

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