Mine was a request to my parents at the tender age of four. Hanging out with mom and dad was ok, but they could only pretend to enjoy tea party for so long and I, quite frankly, was beginning to tire of being handed the usual napkin and ball point pen to “doodle on” while wasting my tender youth at yet another fancy restaurant with mom, dad and company.
She came to us on a cool day in April. I named her after my favorite soap opera character – the prettiest one. Naturally.
Things went smoothly for a while, but then she started to talk. Ask for things. This posed a problem since I wasn’t keen on having her do things like ask for my beloved toys or tattle when I pinched her cheeks, which was often, that’s for sure. But since that cool day in April, when she took up residence in the room next to mine, I can’t remember the last time I felt alone, which feels like a pretty good trade-off for a few Barbie dolls and the occasional grounding from mom for cheek pinching.
I’ll spare you the details of how our five-year age difference felt more like a 100-year gap at times. Hair pulling, clothes stealing, food throwing, phone-call eavesdropping, attention hoarding, and screaming matches refereed by dad. There were days I wished I was alone, like that lucky “only child” who sat next to me in French class who never worried about her sister wearing her barely-out-of-the-box shoes or newly bought baggy jeans.
I would spend the better part of my teenage life kicking my sister out of my bedroom.
Until the day I let her in.
It would be less than one year before our family split apart, waking up one day to learn that dad’s clothes weren’t on his side of the closet anymore. But don’t dwell on the sad bit, because this isn’t a story about heartbreak. It’s a story about love.
I could hear my sister crying in her bedroom, just a few feet from mine, and my heart hurt like it never had before. All these years I hadn’t noticed there was a young woman growing up next to me, sharing my history and now about to be the one person who would understand a future of Sunday mornings and holidays without dad.
It didn’t take much that day for me to open the door to my bedroom, what surely seemed like a fortress most days, and let my sister in. We sat on my bed for hours, just being sisters, drowning out the argument happening between the two people we loved the most, watching reruns of sitcoms and infomercials about sandwich machines.
That was the day I learned to love my sister.
And this is how she loves me back-
There are two things that will happen when you tell your sister you’ve fallen in love:
She will tell you how happy she is, and feel it.
She will tell you how pretty you look in love, and mean it.
There are two things your sister will do when you walk down the aisle:
She will watch every step you take, and remember it.
She will cry more than you, and hold your mom’s hand because you can’t.
There are two things that will happen when you tell your sister your life is really hard right now:
She will look you in the eye and remind you all the reasons you are loved, giving you the best advice you have ever heard.
When you ask her how she got to be so strong and learned to impart that kind of wisdom, she will tell you were the one who taught her how.
Now if you don’t have a sister this story doesn’t exclude you, because sisters are not only the women we share mothers with. They are the women who reflect love back to us; they are the ones who make us feel important; they are the ones who cry with us; they are the ones who tell you when you’re truly being ridiculous; they are the ones who understand when you feel so misunderstood.
For me, that woman just happens to be my sister. She is the best thing I ever ask for, and got, from mom and dad.
I’m so glad I let her in.