This spring break I’m going on a trip with my sister. Just the two of us. There was a time when I would never have thought I would want to do that. My sister is 3 1/2 years older than me. She and my brother, her twin brother, were everything one would expect from loud rowdy twins when we were growing up. I was often the shy quiet one trying to not drown in their wake. They were everything I was not – athletic, outgoing, energetic, rambunctious. In school teachers would see my name on their roster and think “oh no another one”, only to discover I was not so much. My sister was never one to hide or mute her opinion, which in her mind, was the only opinion that matter. I tended to keep my opinions to myself. She had a poster of Lucy in her room which summed up her personality well. Lucy has her head back roaring loud “If I am wrong, I will be wrong at the top of my lungs” She was always a very take charge person.
Circumstances in our life led my sister and I to live with our grandmother for 2 years and then an apartment of our own when we were still teenagers. Neither of us where ready for the responsibility for taking care of ourselves yet there we were. She tried to be in charge and I did my best to make it difficult for her to do that. We had moments when we genuinely enjoyed each others company and had fun, but frequently we were in conflict. Frustration fueled rage often bubbled just below the surface. When we did fight it was those large dramatic type screaming matches that were only useful at making our relationship more strained. When I was 19 and she was 22 we moved away, she went to San Francisco and me to Philadelphia (as far as we could get from each other). We had little contact when we were separated. The one time we traveled together was when she moved back to Chicago. We drove her little 4 cylinder Fiat from San Francisco to Chicago pulling a U-Haul which the car was not designed to pull. Through the mountains in August with an overheating car and two people who didn’t get along was not a very good combination. Some how we survived the trip and I vowed I would never travel with her again.
Fast forward to now, 30 years later, and I am so grateful for my sister. She has been my rock during a very difficult time in my life. When my world crumbled she was there instantly, taking charge compassionately, listening to me, crying with me and laughing with me. She has helped me navigate my children through chaos and trauma, holding their hands and slapping them upside the head (figuratively of course!) when needed. She is the one my children and all of my nephews call when there is a problem. She counsels them through it and then tells them “call your mom or I will!” She is now my best friend, my closest confidant and I cant wait to spend spring break together, just the two of us.