I’ve known my sister my whole life. Sometimes I’ll say Allyson is my oldest friend. She and I met the first day of 7th grade and have never fallen out. And while I love Allyson, and I consider her my sister, the fact is, I have a sister, and truth be told, my sister, Sarah, is my oldest and truest friend (sorry Al).
My sister was 2 years, 9 months old when I was born. I’m confident my mom regrets getting pregnant just as her first child entered the terrible two’s. Neither of us made it easy on her, or each other.
I locked my sister in a closet once. It was an accident. I was maybe 3, and she was probably 5. We had decided that the closet was a secret cubby-clubhouse. Sarah would sit in the closet and I’d close the door. After 3 knocks I promised to open the door for her. She couldn’t open it from the inside. It was a measure of trust to my tiny being. I had to be vigilant to the sacred cubby-clubhouse.
I closed the door. Then my mom called out that lunch was ready, and all that my sister heard was the thump-thump-thump as my tiny feet scampered towards a delectable grilled cheese sandwich.
She knocked three times- nothing. She called my name- no response. Her 5-year-old brain concluded she would live in the closet the rest of her life, and the only food she would ever eat was pancakes- because they were the only edible item that could squeeze under the closet door.
To this day, my sister isn’t comfortable in confined spaces. I can’t think of any other relationship that can withstand imprisonment and stay intact. But now we laugh about it.
I remember that around the time she was in double-digits and I was merely a single-digit child, we fought all the time. We lived in Michigan then. I still remember one day skating on the frozen pond out back in the winter and her trying to apologize for something, and me being obstinate and skating away. I’m sure another day the same happened in reverse.
As we grew older, we still fought. I stole so many of her clothes, which inspired many battles. There were years when I wasn’t sure whose panties were whose. To this day, I still wear a pair of her old workout shorts.
By high school she was a senior and I was a freshman. Sometimes it felt like we were in different worlds. Then one day she had a high school tragedy. Several of her friends banded together to share a limo to prom. Sarah and her boyfriend (now husband) had not been invited.
Sarah found me at lunch. She was distraught. She had other friends who hadn’t been in on the prom-deception, but she wanted to talk to me. She wanted to be able to cry in front of someone. I didn’t know what to do, but I listened.
That was when our relationship started to shift in my mind. We had always loved each other, but to some degree, it had been an obligatory love. We’re sisters after all. But that day I started to understand something that it’s taken me years to vocalize. I began to know that we need each other.
Siblings are the only ones who know where you came from, and how you came to be who you are today. They’re the ones who will accept you no matter what, even when you accidentally lock them in a closet because you really wanted a grilled cheese sammie. They’re the ones who will be there with you through the greatest joys and deepest sorrows. Sarah was with me when our grandfathers’ died, and we held each other’s flowers during our respective weddings.
This week, my sister had her first child- a girl, Piper. It is hard to describe my joy. I didn’t conceive or carry this child. But I feel connected to her because she is a part of my sister, and that makes her a part of me.
This baby is something my sister made. My sister, who is claustrophobic because of me, who has known me since before I was born, who is the most understanding person I know, this woman has had a baby. She helped to take care of me even when I fought it. And all I can think is that she’ll be fantastic at raising her baby girl.