I once read that your sisters are your first friends. That wasn’t true for me. My sister and I are almost six years apart and for most of my life it felt like we were six million light years apart. Even now, I think we’re both hesitant to declare our relationship as a friendship. We’re sisters for what it’s worth. And for everything that it’s worth, being sisters is fine by me. It’s hard enough to manage being “just” sisters when you’ve got two massive egos in the mix competing for love, attention, and better Christmas gifts. (Actually, there’s no competition there. I always get the better gifts but that’s because she gets most of the attention.)
My sister didn’t teach me anything about friendship. She did, however, teach me everything I know about sisterhood. If I were a better sister I would forward her this post so she could know how much I value what we have. Because even with the fighting and name-calling and backstabbing acts of revenge, which we admit is incredibly f’ed up at our age, we know what we have is something special. Our sisterhood is the lens through which I look at all my friendships. Do any of my friends treat me the way my sister treats me? No. A friendship like that would never work. Do I treat any of my friends the way I treat my sister? That wouldn’t work either. But do I care about my friends the way I care about my sister? Can our relationship reflect uncomfortable truths? Can we talk about them? Can we fight? Can we apologize? Do we forgive? Can we be real or do we have to censor our speech? Do we hold each other up after we’ve let each other down? These are the questions and when you can answer yes, your friends become sisters.
I started out with one sister. Now I have four. What I love most about my sisters is that I know they’ll always be there for me. They’re family. And depending on the day or situation that can either be a good or bad thing. It’s good when we’re laughing. It’s good when we’re laughing so hard that we’re crying. It’s good when we’re making memories or reminiscing on old memories. It’s good when there’s nothing to do and we’re catching up with each other. It’s good when there’s everything to do and we still make time to catch up with each other. That’s what sisters do. It’s good when one of us is down and needs a pick-me-up phone call or email or text message or e-card. (I’m really into “someecards” these days.) It’s good when we support each other and when we challenge each other, too. Sisters do that. It’s good when we compete with each other. Healthy competition is good for the soul and to do lists. It’s really good when you know it’s not a competition against your sister but a competition to be your better self. It’s good when we chit chat about celebrity gossip and it’s really good when we talk about metaphysics of the universe. It’s great that my sisters let me discuss my theory of this life not being real. It’s really great that they answered the phone after I watched Inception. But that’s what sisters do. It’s good when you just had the best day of your professional life or you just met the man of your dreams after you declared a moratorium on dating (“Because they put your mind in a bag and take it wherever they want” ) and you call your sisters and they’re just as excited for you and already planning the celebration. It’s really good when you had the most ridiculous fight with your boyfriend (no, not me) or your family (that would be me) and you need to cry and you want the person on the other end to stop everything they’re doing for as long as it takes you to stop crying. Only a sister will do that. It’s good when you start to forget who you are or what you’ve done or where you’re going and your sisters remind you. Only a sister can do that, because she knows you. It’s good when they’re mind readers. It’s also bad when they’re mind readers. It’s good when you start to forget who you are or what you’ve done or where you’re going and your sisters remind you. Only sisters can do that, because they knows you.
My best friends and I celebrated a month of friendship and Black History this February to mark the first decade of our friendship and sisterhood. In appreciating the friendship we’ve built, it’s encouraged me to appreciate the relationship I have with my biological sister as well. The amount of time and thought we put into our friendships relates to how much love and support we receive from each other. So my want for a better relationship with my sister or anyone for that matter means I have to give more of myself and give it time. Maybe a decade. I’ve always known that, but this February goes down in (Black) history as the best gift I’ve ever received from my three sister friends (except for the all expenses paid vacations and staycation). A little bit of love and laughter and time goes a long way — all the time.