I was the youngest of three girls 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.
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 my older sister 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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