If you grew up, as I did, with a smart, capable and beautiful older sister–and you were supposed to be a boy–there were times in life when you felt like an afterthought, an extra, unnecessary piece of the puzzle.
Worse yet, we looked so much alike once we were teenagers that people often thought we were twins, which only solidified my sneaking impression that I was simply the backup daughter, the understudy to the star of the show. Our Uncle Elmer used to try to guess our names whenever he saw us, but the family joke was that he always got it wrong.
Your older sister does everything first: gets a driver’s license, buys a car, gets a serious boyfriend. She has cuter clothes and does cooler stuff. In my case, she also moved out first, got married first, and had a baby first. In her 20s, she got busy building a career and a family, and I got busy building a career and getting a Ph.D in partying.
In those days, we were at such different stages in life that we were disconnected from each other. My sister often jokes that if I had never had a baby she would never have had a sister. Because after I had my son, I finally GOT it.
My sister and I connected as mothers and finally had something in common besides our childhoods to talk about. We became friends. Like Toni Morrison said, a sister is someone like yourself, and yet very much not like yourself: a special kind of double.
My sister is the keeper of my past. She is the only person on this earth who understands our family’s unique and crazy history.
Who knows all my secrets, flaws and weaknesses, calls me on my bullshit, and loves me anyway. Who always tells the truth. Who probably should have been a prosecuting attorney because she is like a dog with a bone when something seems off and who drives me crazy with questions and observations. And who is almost always infuriatingly, irritatingly RIGHT.
It was my sister who first realized that the guy I was dating in college was a pathological liar and either crazy or evil, and who ultimately convinced my dad to pull me out of school. To this day I am convinced that she saved me from becoming just another Dateline episode of a college girl gone missing.
My sister taught me it was more important to be respected than to be liked. To be strong and to figure it out. To stand up for myself, to trust my gut, to take action when necessary, and not to worry whether other people like it or not because it JUST DOESN’T MATTER.
Case in point: I don’t remember his name, so let’s call him Bourbon Bob (BB), since I’m pretty darn sure he’s seen the bottom of more than a few bottles. We were on vacation in Sedona, and BB the crazy trail guide was hell-bent on making us jog up and down the Arizona desert for miles on end.
So Happy Siblings Day to my sister: my mirror, my history, my teacher, my shrink, my partner in crime, my second closet, and my hero. I am convinced that when the two of us stand together there is no problem that we cannot confront and solve. And no one and nothing we cannot plot against, make fun of, laugh at, or ignore. Together. ❤