When my sister left for college, I gave her a little box with a tiny picture of us when we were small and willing to hold each other tightly. I enclosed a Dr. Seuss poem, “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!”
I was trying to say, “I love you.” I was trying to say, “I’ll meet you somewhere down the road.”
She said nothing.
We shared a room throughout our childhood and into our teens. Yet I cannot recollect a single real conversation we may have shared in that time period. I wanted so badly for her to like me, even yearned to live her life exactly. But her explicit disdain for me was palpable constantly, or so I perceived. I always felt like a struggling beetle in a pool of water, meager little arms useless. I bounced between infuriation, hurt, and hope. Ping! Ping! Our entire relationship existed along that fragile framework.
Our lives, each a separate convoluted path, carried on with limited contact: an email here, a holiday there. Until one day we somehow wound up in the same city, in the same house for a short time in fact. Oddly, we began to rely on each other. I stopped pushing so hard and she started to find me kind of humorous. We shared a slight obsession with NCIS and a penchant for casual cottage decorating. We were both drenched in the same family history, the Lake George summers, the attic bedroom nights.
We don’t have a typical sisters-are-best-friends-for-life kind of relationship. Our cheek kisses are always fleeting, never resulting in contact; dragonfly kisses that move on before ever touching the ground. But we have a true friendship, unspoken and unparalleled. To my unlikely friend.
Megan O’Keeffe is a pediatric nurse from Boston where she lives with her husband and two toddlers, Sophie and Tommy. You can see more of her writing on her blog Healthy Offspring.
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