She's been there for almost every birthday I've celebrated. Including the one I had last week. My sister. Two and a half years younger than I am, she shares in the largest chunk of my life. The slices. The fragments. And the scraps. She is the eyewitness to the history of my life. She’s seen me at my best and at my worst. And despite plenty episodes of the worst, she continues to be my biggest cheerleader, my staunchest supporter, and my closest friend. I almost know what she’s going to say before she says it. And when something strikes me, I glance her way and know we’re both thinking the same thing.
We’ve never been competitive. If she tells me I need to revamp my hair, lighten my lipstick, change my outfit, it’s only because she has my best interest at heart. She puts up with my crazy demands and takes my many moods and mini-dramas with good humor. Except for once. When she tried to surprise me with a party for my 40th birthday and I had a hysterical fit. At the party. In front of everyone. After the dust settled, she wrote me a lengthy, scathing email and didn’t talk to me for a week. Well-deserved, I filed the email in my “10,000 Ways to Improve Yourself” folder and I read it when I'm looking for a bit of self-help.
When I made my maid-zilla of honor demands for her wedding to wear a different dress from the rest of the wedding party, she willingly agreed. Until I drove her crazy shopping for dresses. Looking for perfection. Until she yelled at me to pick something. Anything. She said she didn’t care if I wore a bikini to her February wedding. But the day of the wedding, the bridesmaids wore dresses of black velvet and white. And I wore black velvet and red.
Growing up, we had lots of unofficial little sisters. We babysat our neighbors, worked in Vacation Bible School, and taught kids’ church, acting as big sisters to a gaggle of little girls, who looked up to us, wrote us letters in college and who we’re still in touch with today. They all say that they never forgot the interest we took in them, the attention we showered on them and the guidance we gave them.
Though I have just one sister, I am called to a community of sisters. I can offer this unique kinship in a myriad of small ways and through deeper connections. To the trio of 13-year-olds who help me teach my church class, watching what I do so one day they too can lead. To the neighbor I don’t know very well whose face brightened when I suggested we grab a cup of coffee sometime. To the dear friend who asks for a bit of decorating help for a new house. I can carry on the sisterhood.
The birthday presents are opened. The birthday dinner at Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant is festive. The birthday dessert of profiteroles is scrumptious. For almost every birthday of my life, I’ve been lucky enough to have my best friend at every candle-blowing celebration. Here’s to many more.