Wanted: Best Big Sister Ever

A Love Letter by Julia Zhang

October 13, 2016

I was a two-year-old preparing for the most important role of my life: Best Big Sister Ever. My parents told me it was my job to take good care of my little sister because she would look up to me, which is a big responsibility.

I relished responsibility. I loved to show off how great I was at doing jobs for my parents, like fetching my dad’s sandals for him, or helping my mom break the ends off string beans . . . taking care of a little sister was just another job that I could get pats on the head and praise for. I read stories with my mom like this one extolling the virtues of sharing, and practiced taking care of a baby with my dolls. As much as I rehearsed for my role, when baby Jenny came into the world, I was wholly unprepared for one thing – how much I would absolutely adore her.

Best friends from a young age-Jenny wears a helmut and Julia unintentionally impersonates Minnie Mouse.
Best friends on wheels! Jenny wears a helmet and Julia unintentionally impersonates Minnie Mouse.

As kids, I took my job as Best Big Sister Ever very seriously. I made sure to share all my toys with her, and teach her cool things like how to die with drama and flair in a game of cops and robbers. But I also I hated to share the spotlight.

My parents told us they once worried Jenny was developmentally delayed because she started speaking at a later age than “normal.” But when we were separated for a few months (Jenny was visiting my grandparents in China) Jenny suddenly started talking. It wasn’t that she didn’t know how to speak, it’s that I wasn’t letting her!

Despite my annoying habit of speaking for my sister, we’ve grown up as best friends. We’ve played, fought, laughed, and cried all the way to adulthood. As adults now, my parents will still remind me to “take care of your little sister” but sometimes I don’t think they realize how much Jenny takes care of me, and how much I admire and learn from her every day.

Passion – Jenny’s passion is probably what I’ve always admired the most in her. Where I’ve been nervous to speak up in fear of confrontation or discomfort, Jenny will raise her voice to be heard usually in the interest of helping others. This passion for helping others drove her to pursue a career in medicine with emphasis in serving underserved populations, and though it hasn’t always been an easy path, she has fought for it because she believes in it.

Jenny, a med student, donating blood.

Kindness – Jenny has always been kind-hearted, but I have gotten to see the depth of her compassion as she’s moved through her medical school rotations. Almost every day, she tells me about her patients (with respect for anonymity, of course). Sometimes they’re stories of loss, and sometimes they’re stories of triumph, but it amazes me how much she cares for the person within the patient. She reminds me through her actions to look beyond my charmed life at people who may be struggling around me, and show love for those people.

Balance – Regardless of how crazy her medical school workload or schedule is, Jenny always finds time for friends, family, and fun. Without saying anything, she reminds me that life is about more than work, and that there’s room (if you make room) for things that make me happy: dance, soccer, dinner dates with my husband, and spending time with friends.

Jenny and Julia as Forrest Gump
Jenny and Julia as Forrest Gump

All of this is a long way of saying: Jenny, I love you, I admire you, and I hope I grow up to be just like you.




From Angela:

Love Letters are written by subscribers to the You Are Awesome blog. Each of us know teachers, friends, lovers, parents, grandparents, children, bosses, artists, mentors, or teammates who embody goodness, who give the best of themselves in unique and interesting ways. I ask for your courage. I ask for your words. I ask that you share your gratitude and admiration. I ask for YOUR love letters. To learn how to submit a guest post read this.

Author: Angela Noel

On a quest to become a better human, I write about parenting, leadership, and personal development. I tell my stories so you can find your own.

9 thoughts on “Wanted: Best Big Sister Ever”

  1. Julia – You’ve shared a beautiful and heartwarming story. You’ve fulfilled your Big Sister Job with enthusiasm and delight. And you show how much you honor your parents; their values, their love, and their influence on your’s and Jenny’s lives. Thanks for bringing sunshine to my day.

    1. Thanks, Kathy! I really appreciate your kind words about my post. This is my first time sharing any sort of writing beyond a casual Facebook post in a public forum, so I felt a bit vulnerable. But I feel so inspired by Angela’s blog and the impulse to spread love and the goodness of others. Do you have any aspirations of sharing a post of your own, Kathy? If so, I’d love to read it!

  2. Angela – Super story. Love just jumps off the page (or would that be “screen”?) Your blog brings me joy.

  3. Oh, I adored this post. The lifelong bond between siblings is a beautiful thing. I hope your sister reads this and cherishes it. 💜

    1. Thank you Lydia! My sister and I had a wonderful chat after she saw this post ❤️ Do you have a sibling or siblings you’re close with?

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