I have never known a world without my sister.
She was here before me, and for seven years enjoyed a room to herself. When I came along, she got to share her room and the rest of her life with me, through no fault of her own. Despite that seven year difference, we had to declare an uneasy truce to get to adulthood alive. Sometimes it wasn’t easy.
I remember epic arguments, complete with screaming and slamming doors. Those fights stopped short of getting physical only because of our parents. To their credit, they let us go on for a while and then made us cool it. By the end of the day, we had grudgingly made up. That was mostly because we had twin beds two feet apart, and neither of us had the energy left to sleep with one eye open.
At times, she could be downright mean. One time, she offered to let me come on a bike ride with her and a neighborhood friend. It turns out that they could pedal on their two-wheel bikes faster than I could with training wheels and they left me in the driveway. She literally turned her head to look at me and started laughing.
By the time I was in high school, she was done with college and, to my horror, moved back home for work. I had my own room for most of four years, and here we were back to staring at each other from two feet away. We even shared a closet, something my daughters can’t fathom.
Learning to Love
A little bit older and wiser, we managed to make it work. Even more so when my father was diagnosed with cancer. She would come home from work and we’d drive to the hospital to visit. I am definitely the more emotional of us, but I will never forget the moment after my father’s surgery when the doctor told us my father might not make it through the night. My stoic sister burst into tears and ran into the waiting room bathroom. He didn’t die that night, but a year later we stood together by his casket alone in our own thoughts.
Our relationship grew stronger from that moment. We were each other’s maids of honor. We were the godmothers to each other’s first children. We also started talking– a lot. When my mother grew ill, we talked nearly every day on the phone. When my mother died, we again stood together. This time, however, we were not alone. We cried together. We laughed together. And we got through it together.
We still talk daily. At 5:30am every day, she calls on her way to the gym. We text during the day, too, a sister shorthand we have developed over the years. After 49 years, we are closer than any friends could be.
Would I want to share a room with her again? No way. But I am glad to share my life with her– by choice.