Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship. ~ Margaret Mead
Sisters. The very word is a paradox. It’s the hardest, most wonderful thing. It’s simple, but complicated. For me, it’s a story that began in the fall of 1974, when my only sibling, a sister two years younger than myself, was born. Although I don’t recall the first few years, my first memories consisted of a playmate that I adored. Maybe I did convince her to surrender her money a few times. Maybe she was a slave to my random demands, but I loved her, heart and soul. Often trying to take a motherly role, I was more than a little protective of her. I was subject to her bright ideas, which, possibly, could have been considered my pay-back. I clearly remember the time that she convinced me to stand up on the porch swing because she knew a “quick way” to stop the swing. It was definitely a quick way to stop, because both of us were flipped backwards onto the ground! For years, we spent summers and evenings romping in the yard. As we didn’t live in a community, we were sole playmates. We learned to entertain ourselves as we discovered new games and and used our vivid imaginations. She was my best buddy.
Things became more difficult as as we neared the teenage years. There were arguments over friends and clothes. Once so much alike, we began fighting for our individuality. The teenage years created a deep wedge in our once close relationship. A slice of our sisterhood was removed as insecurity and jealousy formed. I secretly longed to be like my sister; smart, pretty, thin, blonde, and fun. It wasn’t fair that she should have it all. As a cloud of resentment rolled over me, I shut her out of my life, refusing to have anything to do with her. Although I loved her, my insecurities wouldn’t allow me to express it.
Through college, I’d see her on occasion and there would be brief glimpses of our old relationship. I missed her terribly, but we were busy with our own separate young adult lives. Through the next years, trials brought our relationship closer together. Even if we didn’t see each other often, we were there for each other during the hard times. My sister played a motherly role as I struggled through my eating disorder. She planned activities that coaxed me out of the house. I was there for the birth of her babies, and went to appointments with her as she was diagnosed with her autoimmune disease. Our relationship and our sisterly bond became stronger.
My sister became my neighbor last November. Although she only lived a mile away before, our lives continuously took us in different directions. We rarely saw each other, except for planned outings. Having my sister as my neighbor has been the greatest gift. Through many tears and honest talks, we have rediscovered our old relationship. We have began to know each other as adults, individuals, and friends. It wasn’t until we stopped trying to be so different that we could embrace how alike we truly were. Just a few weeks ago, we discovered that we had many of the same songs on our playlists. We shrieked with joy, never having known that we shared similar tastes in music. We have also discovered that we have many of the same clothes in our closets and we share the same sense of humor. Several times a week, we cook meals together and run errands together. And often, after a hard day, one of us walks to the other’s house to share wine or hot tea while we wistfully solve life’s problems.
As I look at my twin nieces, I see the same sisterhood struggles. I see their need for individuality as well as their need to be alike. Looking back, I wish I could tell my thirteen -year -old self to value the person I am, without wishing to be someone different. I wouldn’t blame my sister for being her wonderful self, and I wouldn’t let jealousy or insecurities interfere with our relationship. Although we did lose a few years , the most important thing is that we have learned to value the amazing sisterhood that we share now. My sister is the greatest gift that I have ever been given.
For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; To cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen as one stands. Christina Rosseti