The Gift

If you're lucky you--like me--consider your siblings a gift, a relationship unlike any other

Melissaandcindy image
The author with her big sister as kids.

As we focus on all kinds of love and relationships in our latest issue, I think about how I've idolized my older sister for as long as I can remember.  

Throughout my life, whenever I've needed advice about a big life decision, wanted an honest opinion on a piece of writing, or just needed an arbiter to help me pick out an outfit for a party, she has always been "my person." 

We're just over three years apart, and that age difference and relationship could have spelled sibling rivalry. But not for us. She is my biggest cheerleader--she has always wanted great things for me as much, or maybe even more, than she wanted them for herself. 

If you're lucky you--like me--consider your siblings a gift, a relationship unlike any other. Many of us share more memories, inside jokes, and adventures along the journey to adulthood with our siblings than with anyone else. We get this built-in familial partner to face life's joys and adversities with throughout our years together. 

Four grades ahead of me, my sister went away to college when I started high school. And from then on, we didn't live in the same city again until we both lived in Chicago as adults for a time.  

I had grown very accustomed to having my sister, her husband, and my precious nephews (ages 6, 4, and 1 at the time) a quick car ride away, watching the boys gradually grow up.  

Things were going swimmingly until my sister announced that they were leaving Chicago for a job opportunity in Oregon. 

That was nine years ago. Even though we faced new logistical challenges with seeing each other, separated by a 4 ½ hour plane ride, she and I still managed to visit each other and our families frequently.  

But then 2019 happened. I got pregnant, and, that same month, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. During that time, I was not getting on a plane as an extra precaution to safeguard my pregnancy. And my sister couldn't travel because she was too sick from undergoing chemotherapy. We were trapped in our respective parts of the country, relegated to phone conversations--which meant more to me than they ever had.  

My sister, thank God, got better and has been cancer-free for more than a year. But then, just as we were getting back to regularly scheduled programming, the coronavirus struck. Now, like most of you with your own loved ones, my sister and I are once again not able to see each other in person, forced to communicate from 2,000 miles apart through technological wonders like FaceTime and Zoom.  

So now it's been two years of not seeing each other and I miss her and her family dearly, especially considering I have a 15-month-old daughter who I wish would get to spend more time with her older cousins. 

Our family has been fortunate not to be devastated by the pandemic, but like all of you, we are missing people that we cannot see on a regular basis. Yet, we will wait patiently until we can see our loved ones again, a small sacrifice to make to contain this deadly virus--with vaccines continuing to roll out as I write this. 

But until then, I'll continue to miss my sister.  

After all, the biggest gift my parents ever gave me was her. That's why I'm overjoyed that we will be welcoming another baby girl into our home later this spring! 

I hope--like my sister and me--my daughters find a best friend in one another. 

"She is my biggest cheerleader--she has always wanted great things for me as much, or maybe even more, than she wanted them for herself. "



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