Dear Older Sister| December 19, 2018
What a gift! How lucky I feel, so light and airy…
You know, older sisters can be really special; they’re that someone to look up to, to aspire to. And when that older sister is warm and charismatic, can capture a crowd, is a natural entertainer — it can be so much fun to be in her company!
Remember the time our parents were away on vacation, and you had exciting plans to host friends for the weekend?
Remember when I moved to your neighborhood as a young married, and you popped in on moving day?
Remember we collaborated on an anniversary project for Abba and Ima?
Well, I do.
Ima and Abba were going away on vacation; it was just to be the two of us at home. You had a rip-roaring Shabbos planned with friends. There was only one thing in your way — me. You told me to find somewhere to be for the weekend. Ouch.
A wise woman advised me: “Don’t hold the pain in your heart. Tell her it hurts. Share with her how you feel. Give her the chance to fix it.”
Well, the wise woman could not have known your indifference from afar. But I knew it well, up close and personal. You answered: “A person controls what hurts them. If you decide it will hurt you, it will. If you decide it won’t, then it won’t.”
Someday things will change, I foolishly thought.
Moving to a new neighborhood is a real adjustment. My husband and I were relocating to yours. You drove over on moving day at the same time that Ima came. I hoped it would be a new start for us as sisters, at a new stage of life. But it was the last time you popped by. Months later, after reaching out to you with no response, a wise woman said to me: “Don’t hold the pain in your heart. Tell her you’d love to get together, go out to lunch, or have her stop by with the kinderlach!”
Well, the wise woman could not have known your coldness from afar. But I knew it so well it made me shiver. You answered, dryly: “I’m happy with things exactly the way they are.”
Someday things will change, I still hoped.
Anniversaries and birthdays can be a chance to show someone you appreciate them. I suggested plans for a special day to celebrate our parents’ anniversary, replete with grammen, an interesting day trip, and a made-to-order gift. I shared my ideas with you, got the green light, and got to work.
Ten o’clock the night before, you called. It felt so cozy to be collaborating on something nice, y’know, the way sisters often do. Wow, we were qualified for the job, after all! That’s what I was feeling, until you let me know why you were calling. The destination was all wrong, the themes in the grammen weren’t the right style, and you had a better idea for a last-minute gift.
I didn’t need a wise woman to tell me that things had not changed. Your resolve was strong, your sense of compromise nonexistent. But more than that, the way you were negating my presence, my camaraderie, my ideas was clear as day. I was a nobody to you, unworthy of basic rights.
“Maybe someday things will change…” I stammered.
I wanted it so much, the sister thing. Not because we were similar, or because I’d choose you as a friend. I wanted to connect with you, know what brand of cereal you bought, what your favorite soup recipe was, just because you were my sister.
Years passed. I lived with the yearning that was not to be filled. I even watched you find a loyal friend who was “like a sister” to you. I prayed for the ache to stop. I worked on accepting that not everything I want is meant for me to have. I focused on my many brachos. So I didn’t have an older sister who cares that I exist, no biggie.
Another decade or two… it’s finally a reality.
What a gift! How lucky I feel, so light and airy.
It’s taken nearly half a lifetime, but I have finally succeeded.
I don’t want the relationship anymore.
Your Little Sis
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 622)
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