Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Sister Bond

 
    Although February has passed, a familiar heaviness remains in my heart. While I enjoy the cooler temperatures and a romantic Valentine's Day celebration, February is also the month of my oldest sister's birthday. My brain acknowledged Cherie's absence years ago, but my heart never caught up.
     I was the youngest of three girls (and one older brother) in our family, and there was always a special bond between us that transcended even the best of friendships that we shared with other girls our age. My relationship with my sisters played an integral role in my development, helping to define who I am today. We shared more than tea parties, blanket forts, makeovers and boyfriend advice. They were my mentors, protectors and guides through the rough terrain of my adolescence.
 
     Like most sisters, we had our share of sibling squabbles over toys, clothing and the attention of our parents. There was a definite pecking order in the family that I quickly learned to respect. My parents were careful not to make unfair comparisons, but the school system was not always so kind. Being the youngest, I had some big shoes to fill, yet I never felt jealousy toward my sisters. I didn't stand in the shadows of their success. My sisters were loving, generous women who gladly shared the spotlight with me. And I couldn't have been more proud of them.
      I know this is not always the case in some families and I consider myself fortunate to have escaped the cycle of sibling rivalry. My sisters were a reflection of my heart, mirroring the enduring connection we shared. I new I could count on them when times got tough---they knew when to catch me and when to let me fall. I had to learn from my own mistakes, but my sisters were always there, cheering me on from the sidelines and giving me the encouragement I needed to move forward in life. They loved me unconditionally, accepting my flaws and the emotional handicaps I carefully concealed from the rest of the world.

     There was more to our bonding than a common thread of DNA. My sisters and I shared the same, childhood memories and a similar way of thinking. There was a secret language between us,
acknowledged by a certain look or laugh. It forged a closeness that set the standard for others to match in order to be a trustworthy friend.
   
    I know a few women who have never bonded with their sisters. Their rivalries run too deep, leaving scars too thick to heal. I ache for their inability to mend the past and embrace the special friendship that sisters share. I see that same, deep connection now between my adult daughters and I smile at their inside jokes, the gentle teasing and their late night conversations. My girls share that unbreakable bond that tethered me like a lifeline to my own sisters.
     My mother lost her older sister more than thirty years ago but her eyes still mist over with sadness when she recalls happy memories from their childhood. She still misses her sibling after all these years.  I never understood the depth of her grief until I lost Cherie four years ago. Her death left a void in my life too wide for anyone to fill, but I've found solace in the love that I share with my other sister. After the funeral, Valerie and I held onto each other in a sea of grief until the raging waters settled into peaceful acceptance. Together, we cast the sails and let the wind carry us home.
     That's what sisters do.



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70 comments:

  1. Awe Marsha... this was so touching, sometimes all we had was each other as sisters growing up, my two sisters and I were really close and we always pick up so easily whenever we get together or talk... I love all my sisters and feel blessed to have them too... It is so wonderful to connect like that :)

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    1. It's the best and truest kind of relationship, isn't it?

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    2. It definitely is Marsh :)

      Thank you for the beautiful comment on my blog, I will always read and comment on your blog... most times you make me laugh and when it's serious you touch me.. Thanks :)

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    3. Wow---you just made my day! Thank you for always being so kind, Launna! <3

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  2. You're lucky to have that kind of relationship. I wish I did, but i'm one of those who doesn't. It's something I long for, though.

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    1. Awwww Carol, I'm so sorry to hear that. Hopefully in time something will happen to bring you all closer. <3

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  3. Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss. It does sound like your lives were so much richer having had each other, and thank GOODNESS for a 2nd sister! I'm crying right now but that's okay, I have TWO sisters :) and I know what you mean about the bond you never do find anywhere else in life. I lost a brother when I was young, and that is a hurt that never goes away, but I can't even imagine a sister. Sisters are unique in this world, each their own treasure. They're so lucky to have had you, and your daughters each other. I can't even imagine this world without my sisters. They make up for all the other injustices that have come and may come yet. My 4 year old daughter wants to know why I'm crying :) someday I'll be sure to explain so she treasures her sister!

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    1. Thank you SO MUCH Joy, of reshaping these beautiful words with me. Seriously, I'm touched by what you have said here. I am blessed to have my other sister---she's my best friend. I'm so sorry to hear that you lost a brother as well. I have another story about that very subject but I'll save it for another time.

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  4. "There was more to our bonding than a common thread of DNA. My sisters and I shared the same, childhood memories and a similar way of thinking. There was a secret language between us,
    acknowledged by a certain look or laugh. It forged a closeness that set the standard for others to match in order to be a trustworthy friend."

    This quote is so very much like Jon and I. We barely have to look at each other and the message is clear. We make each other laugh and smile like no one else can. My brother Dan and I have a special bond too, but maybe because Jon and I are closer in age, have more shared experiences, this is more profound with him. I don't have sisters. I always thought I wanted one. God blessed me with brothers. I wouldn't trade them for the world.

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    1. Knowing Jon as I do, I can honestly say how fortunate I think you are to have hime as a brother---and he is equally lucky to have such a special sister. You two make a great team---I've seen the love between you since I first "met" Jon here in the blogosphere. And I feel fortunate now to be able to call you both my friends. <3

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  5. This is beautiful and heartbreaking and makes me so, so glad you have Valerie still to cling to, even though you miss Cherie so much, and always will.

    The loss of someone with whom you're so deeply bonded is utterly heartbreaking and I dread the day I'll have to face it. I hope not for many, many years yet.

    But the wonderful thing is that you see that same bond between your daughters, and that's an inheritance worth more than all the treasures in the world.

    I loved this, even though it made me sad. It's absolutely what bittersweet is all about, and you wrote it beautifully.

    *HUGE hugs* to you, my friend <3

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    1. Reading this brought tears to my eyes, Lizzi. What you said about my daughters inheriting the sister bond of love….that hit me right in the heart because it's all so true. Thank you for the beautiful words, dear friend. <3

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    2. *HUGS* Huge love to you, my dear friend.

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    3. Thank you, Lizzi---and backatcha. I cherish your friendship! <3

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  6. The word 'sister' must mean 'friend' in some language! There's no one who connects with me quite like my sisters! And I find that now, at this end of life, they are even more precious! I'm so sorry for the loss of your sister. But I'm so happy that she lives on in your fun memories!

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    1. I'll always cherish my memories of Cherie and am so grateful to be able to share new ones with my sister Valerie. Sisters are the best friends a woman could ever hope to have.

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  7. It's good to be real. Nice tribute to your sister.

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    1. Thank you so much. I realized today how many times I have written about Cherie…she's on my mind constantly. I wish I could say it doesn't hurt but it still does. I think it always will.

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  8. Oh, Marcia, I'm so sorry for your family's loss. *HUGS*

    This was such poetic writing, and a beautiful tribute to the love of your sisters.

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    1. Thank you, Beth. I feel like I could go on and on about my sisters---I love them so much and cannot repay them for all they have done for me---I'm the baby in the family and they have ALWAYS watched out for me. Their love has sustained me for many, many years.

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  9. I'm very thankful for my sister. I think we often appreciate our siblings more as we get older, and realize the value of that shared growing up, DNA, perspective, etc. I'm sorry for all those who are missing a dear sibling this day!

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    1. Me too! Definitely the older we get, the stronger the bond.

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  10. I am the oldest of 4. I have a 24 year old half brother and 28 and 23 year old step sisters. I am not that close with the 23 year old, my brother and I are somewhat close, and the 28 year old and I talk more freely. But I love my siblings anyway.

    I loved reading how your relationship with your sisters was so much more than just that of sisters. That helps so much. And as with the last time you told your story about Cherie, my heart aches for that loss you feel.

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    1. Awwww..thank you so much, Sarah! I'm glad you have so many siblings and hopefully as you all get a little older, the bonds will grow stronger….they usually do. <3

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  11. What a gorgeous piece. As I was reading your piece it made me want to call my two sisters. It's so easy for me to take them for granted and to think that they are always going to be there. Thank you for a wonderful reminder to enjoy the people in our lives when they are here. Sending you hugs. xoxo

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    1. You are so sweet Kathy, thank you. Give your sisters some big hugs, too! <3

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  12. B E A U T I F U L

    I'd give ANYTHING to have my sister w/ me. ANYTHING.

    xx

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    1. Sounds like you've suffered a loss as well. Big Hugs XO

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  13. ah this has inspired me to make more connections with MY siblings - thank you!

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    1. Please do---be sure to hug them and tell them how much you love them!

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  14. I cannot imagine losing one of my sisters. My heart breaks for your loss. Beautiful piece.

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    1. Thank you so much, Michelle. I appreciate that you came by to read the post today! XO

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  15. I recently said to my step-mother, who lost her only son when he was in his teens, that "time heals all wounds" is bu!!$hit. We don't heal. We accept, we eventually are able to embrace the memories, but we always hurt.

    In a way, I don't think we do justice to the depth of the relationship if we were to just heal. Your sister is still with you because you cannot let go. As much as we'd like to stop feeling the pain, I think we honor the love with that refusal.

    It may not be "healthy", but who says loss is supposed to be?

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    1. You are on point here, Karen. I've wondered about this myself---will I EVER stop hurting or stop missing her? Kinda seems like a betrayal if I do. I don't WANT to forget her. I'm trying to remember every little thing I can about her now. At the same time, I'm incredibly grateful for the sister I still have.

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  16. I can't speak to having a sister, since I never had one, but I do know that I moved beyond the sibling rivalries with my brother and am so glad I still have him with me today. I do think it's a good idea to move on, it doesn't mean you are forgetting her. Please...as if she would have it any other way?!?! She's YOUR sister, and you're a total wackadoo!!! So she must have been too, and she would be part of at least some of your crazy family photos if she were alive today! :)

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    1. Cherie had a great sense of humor---she's one of the main reasons this blog exists. She BEGGED me to write funny stories---she had a lot of faith in me and wanted me to use what she considered my talent---to make people laugh. We used to brainstorm some of these stories you have read here at MM. I like to think that every time I post something on my blog, I am honoring her. <3

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  17. There's no replacement for a sister - for that kind of love and for that kind of camaraderie. I have two younger sisters and have not yet experienced the grief that you have of losing one. I can't even begin to imagine the void that you're still feeling. I only know that it has to be incredibly deep and probably always will be and my heart goes out to you, dear Marcia. Like you, my sisters are my lifeline - they are my most trusted and cherished friends and they are so very much more. My sisters know me right down to my soul. And I know them. There is no other relationship on earth that could ever replace the bond of close sisters - no matter how much time goes by - nor would I want one to. The part of my heart that would always ache for my sister if I lost one, is the part that would rightfully belong to her. Your post is a beautiful tribute to Cherie and a tremendous reminder to the rest of us to cherish those we love. There are no sister duplicates or replacements in this life.

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    1. Your words express EXACTLY everything I feel, Marcia. I'm so happy for you that you have such a wonderful sister bond with your siblings. You are blessed!

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  18. I love coming over here because I never know what I'm going to get. This is so beautiful, Marcia. I'm so sorry that February is hard for you, but what a sweet tribute to your sisters. I have 2 sisters and 2 brothers, and we used to (and sometimes still do) fight, but we love each other SO much. So I get this. Wonderful, wonderful post.

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    1. I love your posts about your family, Shay. The love always shines through.

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  19. I can't imagine losing a sister. I'm so sorry. That said I can't imagine being so close--my sister and I are though there is much resentment (I'm still "paying" for being the favored child!)

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    1. Hopefully over time yo will find a way to draw closer.

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  20. Really enjoyed this truly heartfelt read. You are such a good writer

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    1. Thank you so much, Donna, I appreciate all the support you have given me.

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  21. Hi Marsha! I really enjoyed seeing all the photos of your beautiful family. Your Mom is gorgeous, so I can see where all your girls got your good looks.
    Has it really been four years? Wow. I'm sure it seems like yesterday in some ways, and a million years in others. I can't imagine your pain, but I will pray for you in a special way this weekend for peace in your heart. I am so glad that you have such a close family that you can share your pain with...and can see the closeness you had with your sisters in your own family. That has got to be a comfort.

    Thank you for sharing yourself so deeply with all of us. You can see how much you are loved through all the comments, and I hope that helps too.
    Hugs,
    Ceil

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    1. These beautiful comments have brought me to tears. I cannot tell you how much your support--and everyone else's here, means to me! <3

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  22. A wonderful testimony to the strength of your connection with your sisters.

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    1. Thank you, Bryan. They have always even my best friends in life.

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  23. What a sweet story. The photo is beautiful too.

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    1. Awwww….thank you, Theresa. I appreciate you coming by to have a read!

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  24. I know that I've told you before, but I am so sorry about your sister's tragic end to life. It was horrible and awful and preventable and also so just the path that she chose, and so the path that so many people are on that it makes it more tragic. I LOVE your writing, and your storytelling, and you. So much. I want to call my brothers. So much. Thank you for that.

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    1. Call them. Hug them. Tell them how much you love them. Thank you for your kind words, Kristi. I adore you! <3

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  25. I was never lucky enough to have that bond (my mom's only surviving child and my dad died when she was expecting me). I do get to experience it with my kids though. I always say the best thing I ever did for my kids, was give them siblings. Everything else we do, we do from the heart, but the siblings will last long after we've gone (I hope beyond hope). And I LOVE that they're so close. It's a very heart-fulfilling thing to see and know. :)

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    1. Isn't that the truth? When I see families who are disconnected from each other, my heart aches from them. They are missing out on the most beautiful gift of all---each other!

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  26. It's so cool that you have that kind of bond with your siblings. My sis lives in Florida and we are not that close anymore. I need to visit more often and hang with her.

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    1. Yes! You should! Where abouts in Florida does she live?

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  27. My greatest hope is that my girls will have a lifelong bond, because it is a gift. My sister and I can go a while without talking, but the bond we have bridges immediately any differences. I love that.

    And I hope you see so much of your sister that lives on in you and your family today, Marcia. She's still with you.

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    1. Thank you for the comforting and beautiful words, Eli.

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  28. I have came by way of VoiceBoks and i have to say I am glad I clicked on the link, because you rock and I will be back. I have 3 sisters and cannot imagine my life without any of them in it, we are all close and see each other every week we are not just sisters we are friends.

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    1. I am so happy for you, Jo-Anne! You are truly blessed to have so many sisters. There is just nothing comparable to the bond we share with our siblings.

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  29. I don't remember if I told you I have two sisters (and a few non-blood relative sister-friends who I consider sisters). However my sisters are dear to me and the bond we have are unbreakeable. I can't even imagine..... (hugs) Marcia.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. Give some big hugs to your sisters and enjoy every moment with them.

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    1. Thanks, Dex, and thanks for stopping by!

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  31. So sorry for your loss, Marcia. You definitely had a very special bond with her and I'm sure it's wonderful to keep her in your heart by remembering all the good times you had together! Lovely photos of all of you!

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    1. Thank you, Roshni! I appreciate that you stopped by for the read.

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