35 years ago, I had to learn the word share.
35 years ago, I had to learn the words ‘be friends’
35 years ago, I had to learn that there are other hands to hold.
35 years ago, I had to learn what sister means.
There are 35 years of stories; so many stories that would keep a fire roaring for well into many nights…so many nights.
Stories sit and wait to be told. I wish growing up waited like that, sometimes.
In the early years, when we were kids, I said your words for you. I was probably 4 or 5, you 2 or 3. Apparently you didn’t need to learn to speak because I interpreted every little gesture and expression of yours to the world. But, I never wanted you to be misunderstood by the world.
Inevitably, at times, you were misunderstood.
Remember how I always wanted to hold your hand? I squeezed it so tightly, not to hurt you but, because I wanted to get to the heart of it. To the heart of you.
And, I never wanted you to feel alone.
Inevitably, at times, you felt alone. Because, there are just times we all feel alone.
When we were kids, if we were fighting too much, Mum made us sleep in the same room for a few months. We drew a line down the middle, kicking each others stuff over it and blaming it on the other. But at night time, when the world quieted and the only thing we could fling across the room were whispers to each other, I asked you to sing me songs so that I could fall asleep before you.
And, you did. You sang me school songs in your little voice, in the dark.
Because, if I fell asleep after you I would be left to hold the darkness and the sound of your sleeping on my own. The breath of the sleeping is innocence personified and it made me want to protect you more. I felt loss when you weren’t awake.
Remember when we were allowed to have our own rooms again? Only a wall separated us and we created a secret code knock. One knock to see if the other was awake. Two knocks if you wanted to sneak out into the hallway and peek into the living room to see what mum and dad were watching on the T.V. Three knocks to meet in the hallway.
We got braver and bolder each time and then I always outed you to protect myself.
I know, I was mean.
I wanted to protect you from the big world though. When you came to my high school, I was over protective. But, I never wanted you to feel separated from the world.
Inevitably, at times, you felt separated from us all.
It turns out I can’t protect you from the world – it’s been a big heartbreak to find out – but it also turns out that you’re pretty good at figuring it all out on your own.
Better than me, in fact.
Now, I grab your hand to hold me. Now, I wait to hear what you have to say because your words of wisdom help me understand.
35 years later and I know what the word sister means.
35 years later and I want to share everything with you.
35 years later and I not only get to hold your hand, but I get to hold your son’s and your daughters hand.
35 years later and I proudly call you my best friend.
You are the most courageous, creative, stubborn, loyal, practical and fiercely loving person I know….and I am learning so much from you.
I love you to the moon and back.