Kept In The Shade by Dorothy Snelson
She was everything that I was not. She was beautiful, brainy, outgoing and confident. Everyone loved her and admired her, including me. I worshipped at her feet. She was my amazing big sister, Wendy, of whom I was totally in awe, throughout my childhood. I was completely in her shadow.
Our parents, an unassuming couple, seemed constantly amazed that they could have produced such a child as Wendy. They revelled in her successes. A place at Cambridge, followed by a first class degree, followed by a Masters and lastly a prestigious research post. Meanwhile I plodded through life achieving mediocre exam results and ending up with a mediocre job in retail. Sometimes I felt that I had spent my early life in the shadows as far as my parents were concerned as it was all about Wendy.
Then she dropped the bombshell that she was going to America to further her career. She was taking up a post with NASA. My parents were devastated. They had basked in her glory for so long and just assumed that it would be onwards and upwards. She left without a backward glance and impervious to any distress she caused.
‘They’ll get over it’ she said to me. ‘They’ll have to, because I doubt I will be back.’
Suddenly I was out of the shadows. A shoulder to cry on, someone to understand the emptiness they were feeling. I was all that they had now.
I could have felt angry, smug, or cheated but I felt none of those things. After all, they had been good parents. I had not wanted for anything and I understood that they could not help but be proud of Jenny’s achievements. I too, had reflected in her glory. How often had I felt a rush of pride when someone said?
‘Gosh you must be Wendy’s sister. That must be great.’
If you are wondering if I blossomed and flourished at last once Wonder girl Wendy was off the scene, well it does not work like that. I am still on Customer Services at Tesco and running myself ragged after mum and dad. Wendy is getting married to a fellow NASA scientist and I am engaged to Ryan, who works at the local Jobcentre. Not quite the same perhaps, so I am still in her shadow. I am happy with that, though. Like the shade-loving hosta or fern, there is less pressure to perform and produce something dazzling and that is how I like it.