Parts (only parts) of today were messy and ugly. I needed to find something beautiful to focus on, and then I saw a tweet that it was Siblings Day. (Yep, it exists.) Actually, Siblings Day was April 10, but nothing helps move me out of a funk like finding a way to remind myself exactly how lucky I really am. (Lucky so and so, right?) Well, my sister totally does the job! This is my only sister, Amy. Here we are with my mom in New Orleans this past winter.

My mom wanted a portrait of us for her holiday gift, and while we did take a traditional portrait, I also convinced them it would be fun to dress up and trounce around NOLA. Actually, “convinced” is too strong a word. Really all I had to do was mention it. Again, I’m pretty damn lucky, right? It turns out if you get dressed up in sequins and feathers in New Orleans, you 1.) end up making your own parade and then 2.) eventually find a band for that parade! And did I mention all three of us are wearing sequins of the second-hand variety?

My sister is one of the most sensitive souls I know. It hurts her feelings to even think about somebody else having hurt feelings. She is beautiful, smart and incredibly capable. I only wish she believed that as fervently as I do. But who among us can say she actually thinks as highly of herself as the people who love her do?

Amy and I haven’t always been close. We were at each other’s throats as teens, and then I left. I left home as soon as I was 18, and I didn’t think about looking back or how that might affect my intensely sweet, sensitive, 15-year-old sister. You see, by that time, she’d taken so much emotional abuse from me that she’d built up a thick shell, and my teenage head-up-my-assedness mistook that shell as confidence, or at least disinterest. I’ve spent my adult years trying to build a bridge back to my sister. It’s not easy living many states away; she lives in our native Mississippi. But as we’ve grown, we both seem to have realized making the effort is worth it. The love of a sister is unique. Our relationship is different from any other relationship I have, and I cherish it in a very special way.

I flew back home for my sister’s 30th birthday this past February. It was supposed to be a surprise, but I manage to ruin all surprises. The gift I gave her was a book based on this powerful TEDTalk by Sarah Kay. On it’s face, it’s about mothers and daughters, but I somehow found meaning in it for me and my sister. We were raised by the same mother, a mother who loves us fiercely, and so I know we will both somehow eventually find our own ways to become fiercely loving mothers ourselves. We won’t be able to help it because we don’t know anything else. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s the note I inscribed inside:

Every time I catch a glimpse of you, across a table, across a room, or across the web from across several states, I find myself thinking, “What a captivating, charming, accomplished, confident woman. How did I become so lucky as to share the role of sister with a person I not only love but also truly like and admire?” You can already hold your own in any situation, and you’ll only become more sure of yourself now that you’re 30. Get ready to be unstoppable, and know I am watching you with a lump in my throat and fierce pride in my heart. With all the love in the world, your admirer, your sister.

I love you, Amy.


Amy and Jessi in New Orleans


  1. Anhelo Escalante

    You inspire me so much.

  2. MisssDelish

    You made me cry today. You really are soooooo lucky.

  3. Judy B

    Three beautiful women!

  4. Martha Taylor

    I’m the one who’s LUCKY! I’m “one proud mama” of two beautiful and outstanding women!

  5. Amy Yates

    So, I just now saw this post! I guess that means I need to follow your blog more closely;) thank you so much for your kind words and thoughtfulness. It is so comforting to know that when it comes to the heart of the matter, you truley understand me. We may not agree, but atleast I know you get it. And to your credit, there is no way I could have an ounce of the courage and self confidence I have grown to embrace without having an amazingly strong big sister to learn from. Thanks for forging the path for me and always being a shining example of self expression and beautiful uniqueness. I love you so much and I hope you have an amazing rainbow parade, only wish I could be there with you!

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