National Sisters' Day

If this were a typical day, I might have called my sister and talked about nothing for a half hour. She knew I love my husband, so I could gripe for a while about his foibles and she wouldn't judge. She was patient with my stories, which tend to weave a bunch of asides in as I struggle toward the main point. She shared my negative optimism about life: It isn't perfect, but it's what we've got.

Instead of calling, I might have driven the 30 miles to her house so we could go out to lunch. Or we might have sat on her porch, sipped tea, and relived our childhood.

Those things were typical, but they're impossible now, since my sister died suddenly at sixty-three.

There are positives here. She often said she didn't want to linger into old age, and we agreed that a quick death is better than a slow decline. (Hence the deer suit in the Sleuth Sisters stories.) We'd been out together the day she died, and her last words to me were how much fun it was, doing nothing much but doing it together.

The negative is the staggering sense of loss I feel. I can't call. I can't visit. There's a hole in my life.

I have other siblings, and we've leaned on each other more than usual these last few months. It doesn't make the hole go away, but it does smooth the edges a little. 

Siblings know us in ways no one else can, and memories from our formative years stick us together, no matter how far apart we go. Often a phrase, a look, or a photo triggers shared remembrance, and we laugh or cry or launch into a "family story." Though the telling will be slightly different for each sibling, the results are the same. Feelings we had as kids, good and bad, were experienced by another person, and that creates a bond that's hard to break. 

If we're lucky, we stay close to our sisters as adults. It isn't always continuous and it isn't always easy, but again, those shared pasts pull us together more than they tear us apart. I made the Sleuth Sisters as different as my sisters and I are, though they aren't really us. (We aren't brave enough to take on criminals, even together!) Like any set of sisters, Barb, Faye, and Retta's views were shaped by the lives they've led, but their characters were formed in the years when they grew up together. That means they understand each other even when they don't agree. And that's the beauty of sisterhood.


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