As the youngest of 5 sisters, “sisterly love” has been a major theme of my life. One thing I absolutely know to be true: if you have a sister, you have an ally, best friend, confidante and personal coach for life! As a youngster, it was fun for me to write letters to my three oldest sisters who left for boarding high school (each one following the next, one year apart) starting when I was 4. My goal was to entertain, make them laugh, and convince them to let me “tag along” behind every teenage adventure they had. I remember hiding behind a curtained window hoping to catch one of them kissing a boy in our driveway – everyday was a new adventure (or violation, from their perspective)! My relationship with my sister just 3 years older than me was much more like the traditional sibling rivalry yet unique because we have always had completely opposite personalities. As anyone from a large family can attest, my identity and purpose throughout life has largely been framed in the context of being an “annoying little sister”!
A sister can enrich your life more than any other connection. Between sisters, there is a shared lens on the world and life formed so strongly and early that it is nearly impenetrable. What one can see, the other feels, maybe another interprets for the rest.
Sisterhood is a flowing exchange of perceiving reality and washing it in the bonds of caring, safety and love created when we were young – and giving it back so the world feels softer, more tolerable.
As I get older, washing the pain I feel in my sisters’ lives is the greatest act of love I can conceive. These champions of my spirit move through the world and experience human pain, suffering, joy and the like but to me they seem larger than life, as if immortal. I want us all to stay little and innocent forever. For my psyche to process actual pain and suffering is an excruciating emotional task. I do feel “one” with them.
The past decade my sisters and I have all moved into middle age and experienced the natural illness and loss of a parent and the challenge of creating a loving environment for our Mom, who is very ill. Throughout these days, life has brought us each some pretty difficult health, financial and emotional challenges. The laughter we shared feels distant many days.
It’s hard to accept that the people you love most in the world can be cut at the knees by life yet the purpose of life is to flow freely through the pain and darkness and share joy and light with one another.
This much I know for sure, I may disagree with my sisters philosophically, politically or any number of ways, but THEY ARE ME. We belong to each other, and that is the most important thing in the world.
Some people believe we make “spiritual contracts” before entering the physical world, and part of that is choosing the souls with whom we travel through life. It makes sense to me when I consider the love I have for my sisters and the joy that comes from witnessing their high points in life. This year, I want to be a better sister, I hope to be able to do more than just entertain and make them laugh. I want to fill the vessel of sisterly love until it overflows.
When I feel wounded and scorned by an intolerant world that does not understand me, my sisters are there protecting my heart. My sisters are Grace personified.
Love is shared 😘
It may be that I so identify with this piece that I am inclined to write that it is one of your best pieces ever. Or it could be that the writing is so heartfelt. I am not sure. Regardless, the image of little Joanie hiding behind the curtain while spying on a big sister in the driveway will stay with me for a long time.
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Thank you, Mary!!