I woke up today to rainy skies and the knowledge that this was my last day with my sister. Neither reality made me very happy. Raina was still asleep when I got out of bed, and so I went into wake her up, knowing that she needed to be at the Unitarian church no later than 10:30 am to set up her equipment for the morning service. I gently tickled the leg that was sticking out of the comforter. She mumbled a few words back to me, in the same half-sleeping voice she’s been using since she could talk and then gracelessly thumped the patch of bed next to her. It was a ploy to get me to let her sleep a couple more minutes, but I was happy to play along and get a couple more moments of sister-snuggles in. I climbed in and she flopped her left hand across my chest and said, “Heal my hand.” The fingers on her left hand sometimes get numb after she plays a lot of music, and a couple of nights ago, I dreamt that I had been able to heal it. For the next fifteen minutes, we lay there silently, and I focused all the love and energy I could directly into her fingers, hand and heart.
I spent the first fifteen years of my sister’s life wasting a lot of energy trying wish her away. She was difficult, demanding and impossible to reason with. I would often tell her friends that I wanted to trade her for one of them. Of course I did and said all these things with a core of love, but the day-to-day living with her was challenging. The actual thought of somehow losing her terrified me. All those years, what really I wanted was a friendship with her. I remember once writing in my high school journal and crying, filled with the fear that if we were not related, my sister would not choose me to be her friend.
During this trip, everything changed. I don’t know if it was because we were interacting on different ground, because we’ve both spent the last couple of years really growing up or even if the absence of our parents helped, but somehow, a friendship, the exact one I always craved, has grown. It’s one that we both appreciate and value with our entire beings.
This morning we sat next to each other in church, Raina’s curly pink and blond hair in two braids, mine hanging straight and brown-ish. Everyone still could guess that we were sisters in one look. She sang Peace is a Tree, and managed to rock the church in the space of single song. After the service, people swarmed around her, and I stood back, watching. Some complimented her on her performance in her show last night, and others raved about the song they had heard this morning. She sold some CDs, got a hug from the other guest singer in the church that morning and talked to a couple of little kids. As the last churchgoers trickled out the doors, we packed up her stuff and loaded the van. I stood and watched her start the engine, Amber in the front seat, and Lauren lounging in the back. My throat was bursting with the missing of her as the van pulled out of sight. I went back to my apartment, devoid of the explosion of stuff that has marked it all week, and wondered for a second what’s so good about neatness and clean surfaces.
Rainy, I can’t wait for November, when you’ll come back, to take over my apartment again.