I got caught in the middle of the top-secret of all surprises, wearing a pink leopard print apron with a chocolate covered spatula in hand. There are surprises that if discovered before their time maybe bum the surprise-giver out for a split second, but really aren’t that big of a deal. Like when you plan a birthday breakfast in bed, but your spouse wakes up early and finds you mixing a bowlful of eggs in your jammies. You easily just snap with a smile, “get back to bed!” and continue whisking. Then there are those top-secret surprises that are a really really big deal and your brother would probably kill you if you spoiled it. Like when he plans a surprise proposal to his girlfriend (Alexis) of 5 years on a hike with her best friend, followed by a surprise engagement barbecue with family and close friends. And there you are, baking a two-tiered deep chocolate layer cake in your parents’ kitchen on a Friday night for the engagement barbecue the next afternoon when your mom texts you, “Alexis is bringing me home from dinner, HIDE ALL EVIDENCE!”
Noelle is four years younger than me (and about five years wiser). She and her husband live in West Virginia, where they’re obtaining advanced degrees in medicine, while also owning a house and raising an adorable 14-week old puppy. But despite the levels of responsibility she seems to exponentially reach, Noelle will always be my little sister. Forever, she’ll remain the doe-eyed girl with evenly cut bangs, who could make me laugh so hard I thought I’d never see straight again.