Once, when making small talk with a colleague, I asked her how her sister was doing. I was surprised—no make that stunned—when she said she didn’t know, because she hadn’t talked to her in months.
Today, I celebrate my good fortune in having four sisters, each of whom I speak with, laugh with, argue with, and enjoy many times in every month.
My sisters have the qualities I look for in friends: they are smart, funny, thoughtful, truthful, reliable, and almost always up for dessert. But for me, there is something about the sister relationship that transcends all but the strongest friendships. Maybe it’s that I’ve found over the years that there’s nothing you can say or do in the sister relationship from which there is no coming back. Even though at times each of us has stretched the bond of shared DNA pretty far, it always snaps back into place. Also, there’s nothing you can’t ask, no time you can’t call, no crisis you can’t share, and no honest answer you won’t get.
If you ask a sister “Do my fat rolls show in this dress?” she will not waste time telling you that you don’t have fat rolls. She will just say “Yes. Try this one.” And you know that her response is practical, not judgmental.
If you’re in emotional crisis, and it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, and you’ve already tearfully repeated to everyone you know, as well as to several startled strangers, the entire story of the unhappy unraveling of a relationship, you can still call a sister and say it all over again, and she will listen. And if you have several sisters, they will pass you back and forth when you need to keep talking, but they need a respite.
If you are an adult sharing a house with your sister and you run out of clean underwear, you can take hers out of the dryer and wear it, and she won’t get mad. Note: be sure you know which sister you’re trying this with.
If you have to go to a party and you don’t have anything to wear, your sister will pull some things from her closet, some things from your closet, and put them together for you in a way you are not quite sure about. She will banish your doubts and tell you it’s a great look, and to just wear it. When you tell her later that you got lots of compliments on your stylish ensemble, she will say ‘I told you so,’ but you know she earned it.
If you have an ethical dilemma, a sister will listen to you pro and con and equivocate, then be the moral compass that sets you on the right path.
If you are so hungry for chocolate chip cookies, but so lazy you can’t get off the couch, she will go to the kitchen and make you some. Again: be sure to select the right sister for this request.
If you need to hear something you’d rather not, your sister is brave enough to say the words, and strong enough to deal with your anger, and steadfast enough to forgive the unforgivable things you might say in hurt response.
When we were growing up there was much fighting, stealing of pantyhose, unsanctioned borrowing of clothes, and occasional mean-spirited teasing. Our dad, who had long imagined the joys of a big family, would sometimes ask, “Why can’t you girls just get along?” I’m happy that he lived long enough to know that we grew into the relationships he always hoped we’d have. That of course includes my two brothers as well, who are worthy of a post of their own, but not today. Today I celebrate my sisters, and all sisters.
For there is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather … Christina Rosetti