Friday, May 29, 2009

A Bond Unbroken

We are both female.
We both have blue eyes and brown hair.
We have the same parents.
We grew up under the same roof.
We went to the same high school.
We both love dogs.
The similarities end there.

I'm the serene intellectual; she's the social know-it-all.
She's the jock; I'm the recreational athlete.
I'm a planner, she's spontaneous.
She thrives on chaos;I like cleanliness and order.
I'm an endorphin junkie; she likes her sleep.
She'll hold her ground and never back down;I hate conflict.

I've always been fascinated at the differences between my sister and I. Same sex siblings tend to fall into one of two categories: best friends or arch enemies. My sister and I are neither. We grew up differently, and we have a unique relationship.

I'm seven years older than her. I was in first grade when she was born. By the time she was in first grade, I was in Junior High. When my college friends hosted their siblings for the weekend, I stood by and watched- my heart aching that my sister couldn't be there too. Twelve year old + fraternity party+ alcohol+ boys= lawsuit waiting to happen.

My friends would always ask what it was like to have a sister so much younger than myself, but I never knew anything different. We didn't have much in common; we weren't into the same things. We existed in different worlds. She was playing dress up and I was going to formals. Don't get me wrong, I love her to death, but I always felt more like a mom than a sister to her. But then something happened- I didn't come home from college in between my junior and Senior year. And suddenly, our relationship changed.

She called me one Thursday afternoon in late June. She was giddy with excitement. "Kel. I think he likes me! He told J, who told A, who told me! Isn't that cool?" My heart melted. Her first crush. And she called me. Instantly, she grew up. She was no longer that little girl, she was a teenager. Despite our separation that summer, our relationship grew. We talked on the phone, she became my friend on facebook (yeah, that was weird), she asked me advice, etc.

That September she started high school. I vividly remember talking to her on the phone the night before school started and telling her that it would all work out. She wouldn't be late to class, she wouldn't get shoved into a locker, and she wouldn't sit alone in the cafeteria. I recalled my first day of high school and I remembered her sitting in the living room bay window waving as I walked down the driveway. Suddenly, my heart ached and I realized that I wouldn't be there to see her off.

When I was in high school, I used to go to all her soccer games. I enjoyed spending a few hours each weekend at the soccer fields watching her evolve from a amateur to jock; however, I only made one of her JV soccer games freshman year. The weekend that I graduated was the weekend of her Freshman Dinner Dance. She skipped the after party so my family could dive down to Philly fr my graduation festivities.

She turned sixteen that September. I had to work. I missed Christmas that December. I had to work. She called to tell me that it didn't feel Christmas without me. I wasn't there to hold her hand as we walked the steps to see what "Santa" left us. I wasn't there to sit next to her at church and giggle as the cantor reached a note that would break glass. I started to cry. Although I made it home the next day to celebrate, it wasn't the same. I thought she would be okay without me on a holiday (I hadn't been home for Easter in four years), but I was wrong.

Over the next two years, we grew closer and closer. The age gap seemed to narrow and although i still harbored motherly feelings, I felt more and more like a sister. I gave advice, I spoke from experience, I didn't judge. The first time she came to visit me in New York, without my parents, I showed her city life. She told me that she felt "so grown up", I told her, "Because you are."

Tonight is her first prom and no I won't be there. The date was changed, no one informed me, and I couldn't get the night off. I want her to know that I don't value my job more than my relationship with her. I want her to know that there's a piece of my heart there with her tonight, as always. We may be separated by distance, but the love is there and stronger than ever.

Colleen- You've become such a smart, wonderful, loving young woman...I'm so proud to call you my sister. I love you.

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