I was talking on the phone this morning to my youngest older brother.
"Our sister would have been 60 years old today," I remarked.
"I thought of that a couple of days ago," he replied.
"If she were here, how much grief her brothers would be giving her.
As it is, I'll just have to do it in my head." I smiled on the other
end on the line.
A few years ago I wrote the following about my sister. It still holds.
"To the outside world we all
grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always
were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember
family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of
time." ~Clara Ortega
Isn't that true? To hear us kids (!) when we get together would confirm this in
the best and worst examples. We're all upwards of fifty or so. (I'm on the
lower end of that "or so".) Our holidays are filled with laughter and
fun, a comfortable nest away from which we never seem to fly too far. When I
see my parents with their sisters and brothers-in-law, it is like peeking
through a keyhole, into a comfy room "outside the touch of time".
It's a tremendous gift, family. Brothers and sisters.
My sister was eight years older than me. She moved away to college, and then it
was years before we got reacquainted. Or acquainted in life beyond sharing a
childhood bedroom, with her teen mags and makeup, and my Barbie dolls and
We shared an apartment one summer in college, and that was tremendous fun! We
shared clothes, talked incessantly, argued some, and laughed at every
opportunity. She was the only person I knew who could sing every song I could,
knew every lyric I did. She was finishing her Master's, and one class required
her to read an exorbitant number of children's books that summer. We struck a
deal that after dinner she would clean up, if I would read to her, just to give
her eyes and mind a break. Through the Looking Glass, Go Ask Alice, Where the
Wild Things Are...we covered a lot of literary ground that summer that we would
revisit in our parenting years. We played flute duets. She began dating her
then-boyfriend and subsequent husband that summer. It was a summer of camping,
family get-togethers with brothers, and just plain fun. As so much of what we
did was...simple fun! She and I met our first niece, of soon-to-be many nieces
and nephews, that year. And this year, my brothers and I will welcome that
little baby's baby: our first grand-niece or nephew.
NOTE: This summer, we welcome two more grand-nieces into the family
And so the Circle of Life continues.
I knew far earlier than upon my sister's passing how much I relied on her. Just
to be my sister. Just to call and chat, laugh, ask a silly question. She always
got it right.
B. Alpert wrote of sisters:
"She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities.
She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway.
She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when
you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney,
your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you
wish you were an only child."
There's a lot to that. There's something really special about having a sister.