When we were young, she was a distraction
a little sister who got in the way, the one who ratted me out
when I was drinking in the basement with boys, the one who caught me
leaning out my bedroom window as I smoked and asked what I was doing
As the years rocked gently by, ushering us into various stages of our separate lives
we’d cross paths now and again, mostly during mandatory Sunday Meals when
I’d curse her under my breath for taking so long to finish her dinner so I could be released back to enjoy my rebellious teenage activities, the ones she was too young to join
Somehow as time slipped and the distance between our years shortened
she was there, waiting
And it was my sister that navigated the twists and turns of my childhood angst, guiding the boy who would later become my husband to my side
And it was my sister, my little sister, who became my protector when that man
became cruel, wrapping his hands around my throat instead of my broken shoulders
And it was my sister who picked me up off the floor after I’d crumbled, believing I had taken as much as I could stand
It was my sister who told me otherwise
My sister convinced me to eat when I became anorexic, telling me with complete honesty
that I did not look thin; I looked sick
My sister convinced me I was someone of worth, someone that could be loved
My sister convinced me that the shattered pieces could be mended
My sister convinced me I was strong enough to begin again
And when I started to write again, she became my Reader
And when I started to love again, she became my Witness
And when I started to live again, she became my Support
When asked to tell the story of a strong woman who influenced my life,
the choices are many. We are women of strong stock, always taught to use our voice.
But of all of these, she is the voice that whispers in my ear.
That little girl, always underfoot, became the foundation on which I’ve created
the woman I am today.
For that, I am thankful.