“You’re going to grow up to be best friends.” This was a mantra my sister and I heard weekly if not daily from my parents. They would utter these words when we would be in the midst of attack on each other, and we would thrust ourselves into the most impressive teenage eye rolls. We didn’t always argue, but no one could make me angrier than my sister, and I know she felt the same way. I know now–even though I would never admit it then–that no one could make me angrier because there is no one that I love like my sister. Sure we had our arguments and disagreements, but none of that matters in the scheme of things when you’re bound by blood lines, the same parents, and an impressive knack for sarcasm. Sometimes unconditional love meant keeping a crush a secret. Sometimes unconditional love meant screaming at each other at the top of our lungs, and sometimes it meant understanding my Richard Marx obsession without judgement. No matter the task, my little sister Kally was up for it.
In college, I remember our differences really outweighing our similarities. She was so responsible, had a great job, and didn’t enjoy late nights with a whole bunch of friends. My sister opted for making good money, practicing feminism in the student union, and being a good friend to one person at a time. I couldn’t understand such madness. Now, I see that she was wise beyond her years, and my judgement was clouded by all of the distractions college allowed us. Somehow, we both made it out doing what we love, but the road wasn’t easy. It also wasn’t lonely .
It’s understandable that we are both passionate. We are Irish, Norwegian, and German. We are under no obligation to ever hide our emotions. I remember all of the things I put her through as an adolescent, and no matter what, she would ride it out. When we played make believe in the neighborhood, she seemed to always agree to play the less than sought after roles. Whenever someone would spread rumors about me, she had my back, and when she was ever forced to defend my honor, she would do so without fail. Even in our most volatile years, my sister was my best friend, but I think I was too blind to see it. I don’t know why, but in high school and college, I never wanted to admit how much she meant to me. It did, however, come out in weird ways. For example, when I heard someone had spoken ill of her, I marched right into where that person worked, flipped my blonde hair to the side, and spoke sternly to let them know that they had better stop. (It’s so hilarious now.) What would I have done if that person would have retaliated? I’m 5’1 and I hate conflict. Anyway, it’s the thought, right?
Now that we are older and a thousand miles apart, I feel it even more. I can call her whenever I need to. She understands when I can’t talk (I never have to explain that it’s due to all of the children I have had), and she loves them unconditionally as well. Even when we’re in a public space, and my children are being ill-behaved, she smiles and plays along as I sarcastically proclaim in the aisle that she, “had better get a hold of her children before someone calls the store manager.” To be fair, my sister’s dog is the same as my children only that mischievous behavior takes place at dog parks, so…
Although we are very different, we were raised the same. We have the same memories. And if nothing else, this is all that matters. When you have a sister, you don’t ever have to explain yourself. The great part about being sisters so close in age, is that we’ll always share these experiences. Her ability to recall certain events in our past is far superior to mine, but there are parts of my life I couldn’t forget if I tried, and she was there for most of them. Kally knows the storytelling ability of my Grandma C., and horse-riding with our aunts Tam and Peggy. She was there for every fun Halloween party with our cousins, and she knows how my grandmother M’s laugh sounded when she defeated us in cards. If I need a person to understand just how truly epic my grandfather’s Donald Duck imitation was and how I’d laugh until my six-year-old tummy hurt when I talked to him, she knows because Kally’s stomach hurt too. If I need a partner to celebrate how much fun our Aunt Rol is, or to remind me that wine tastes better at mom and dad’s, she is that partner. She can help me reminisce about just how beautiful our Aunt Nicki was all the way through her battle with cancer. There’s an understated beauty to being sisters. It’s unspoken and effortless.
To piggyback on Kelly’s post from earlier, she and my parents were completely right. My sister and I did grow up to be best friends. I love my sister’s humor, and I love how easy it is to talk to someone who has the same amazing grandparents, and the same insecurities about life. I love to talk to someone so gullible that it hurts, and I love to know that I’ve got someone in my corner especially when life gets lonely. Having a sister is something that is special. So there you have it, mom and dad. We did grow up to be best friends. And I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side.