Dear Annoying Cousin,

You read backwards the names on the rear end of a truck, and told me they were residents of your basement who came out for a friendly spook every summer fortnight. You are the reason I kept my torch close and felt the need to tiptoe to the kitchen for my midnight cravings.

My parents would deposit me in your home every time they traveled, and I made a habit of “forgetting” my pajamas so I could wear your long, dress-like football jerseys instead. In a room taped with so many Arsenal posters you could no longer see the walls, I’d find your toy guns in the bed, under your mattress or play with your collection of perfume bottles – some shaped like a lantern and others, tall rose-colored containers.

I pretended to understand the rules of football just so I could sit with you and watch the World Cup Final. You made sure I covered my eyes (no peeking!) when gruesome crime scene photos of your favorite murder shows popped up.

When I came running down the stairs because of a nightmare, you pointed at the dream catcher above your bed and told me it stole all the bad dreams so I’d never see one again. And when we were left to our own devices, you packed my school lunch (your super special double-decker jam sandwich) that I couldn’t fit in my mouth but called yum, anyway.

When grandma announced she was traveling abroad and my timid six-year-old self insisted I didn’t want anything, you and your brother sat me down and pulled out a six foot long piece of paper, filling it with “hair clips” and “Lindt”. You told me your house name (that I’d failed to notice) was a hotel I would often stay at, my head was confused for days and I never once suspected the gleam in your eyes or the silent chuckles.

You no longer have the time to toss a ball back and forth or show me all the cheat codes to Vice City. But you still push yourself between me and the boy who’s dancing with your “baby sister”, sneak me out of a family gathering to grab a few beers and drop everything to come get me after a party at half past midnight.

I don’t fall for your horror stories anymore or keep up our movie night tradition very well, but the reason I put “older brother” in my Christmas list had everything to do with you.

Forever your Baby Sister

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