My Sister and I

June 23, 2009
My sister and I were incredibly different from one another. If I had to think of one word to describe her, it would be “normal”. She was boy-crazy and loved make-up as a teenager, and she loved partying as a college student. She made average grades and dreamed of marrying the perfect man.

As for me, I was anything but normal. I enjoyed writing novels, reading books, and studying. I couldn’t care less about my looks: I wore glasses, no make-up, and just a T-shirt and jeans. Boys were far from my interests. I dreamed of writing a best-selling novel and speaking seven languages.

However, despite our differences, my sister and I were best friends. We loved each other and could tell each other anything.

My earliest memory of my sister and me is the time she braided my hair. I was four years old and she was twelve. We sat in the middle of our grassy backyard and soaked up the sun. I remember constantly reaching back to feel the braid and laughing at its roughness.

When I was five she taught me how to swim. We played tag on the grass for a while, and then she jumped into our lake and pulled me in with her. It was one of the scariest moments of my life, because I had never been in the water without floaties. However, she quickly calmed my fear by showing me how to tread and stay afloat.

My sister held sleepovers in her room for the two of us every Wednesday night. This came about the week I started first grade. She told me that since I had started the torturous process of school, I deserved a midweek treat. I really didn’t mind school too much, but I didn’t tell her that. I loved Wednesday sleepovers more than anything.

One sleepover she told me that I had magical powers to make people happy. Another time, she said I was the prettiest first-grader she had ever met. She told me her secret crushes and said I was the only person she could ever completely trust. I’ll never forget how special she made me feel.

That summer she took me on long walks in the woods. She showed me honey suckles and blackberries. One time we came across a patch of clover, and she promised me she could find one with four leaves. At first, I didn’t believe her, but I was proven wrong.

When I was in third grade, she earned her driver’s license and received a yellow Beetle for her sixteenth birthday. Since she could drive, we hardly played in our backyard anymore and often went to places outside the neighborhood. She frequently took me shopping at the mall and bought me make-up. She said it was her duty as my sister to buy that for me, since my mom would never allow it.

I didn’t particularly like make-up or shopping, but I didn’t tell her that. I loved spending time with my sister no matter what activity we were doing. My sister was my role model: to me, she was perfect. She was pretty, sweet, and the best sister ever.

The summer after fifth grade, she left for college in a different state. The day she left, she took me on a walk in the woods. We hadn’t done that in two years. She and I walked over to the patch of clover. Again, she picked a four-leaf clover for me.

I didn’t want her to leave. I fought tears, but they streamed down my face anyway. My best friend, whom I had never lived without, was leaving.

“Don’t cry. We’ll still keep in touch—I promise. We’ll talk on the phone a lot, and I’ll come down for visits,” she said. We sat there talking for a few more minutes before she had to leave. She hugged me goodbye and left me sobbing.

My sixth grade year was the worst year of my life. It was the year all of my friends changed and started to like boys, make-up, and shopping. I remained a complete and total geek.

Throughout the year, my sister was always there for me. Even though there was distance between us, we talked on the phone almost every day and she visited at least once a month. She comforted me when my parents were disappointed that I didn’t fit in, and she gave me advice on how to stand up for myself. I constantly wished that I was my sister, who was normal and completely happy with herself.

I skipped seventh grade. From eighth to tenth grade, I struggled with my parents’ expectations of me. They expected me to be the perfect student all the time: they would become disappointed even if I earned a “B” on a test.

I wanted to be my sister. The only thing that was ever expected of her was to be normal. If she failed a test, my parents said, “Oh, well. I guess everyone fails a test once in their life.”

I was especially stressed about my parents’ expectations before my bat mitzvah, which took place in the middle of eighth grade. I felt that if I didn’t read my Torah portion and speech without making any mistakes, my parents would be disappointed in me. The night before my bat mitzvah, I couldn’t sleep. My sister had come to visit, and she knew just how to make me feel better. We had a sleepover in her room.

“I probably messed up ten times at my bat mitzvah. No one noticed. I know Mom and Dad have been pressuring you a lot lately, but that’s just them being parents. A bat mitzvah is about right of passage and your spiritual journey of growing up, not about reading some Torah portion or speech perfectly. They know that. You’ll do great,” she said. After I heard her comforting words, I was able to sleep peacefully. The next day, I found that my sister was correct about everything she had told me.

In January of ninth grade, my two best friends dropped me to join the popular crowd. At the same time, my sister and her roommate went through a misunderstanding. We stayed up night after night talking on the phone to each other about our troubles. Eventually, I gave her advice needed to solve her problem, and she helped me move on from mine.

At the end of my tenth grade year, she graduated from college, and my family and I flew up to see her graduation. That year had been especially busy for her, so we hadn’t seen each other since September.

Before the ceremony, we greeted each other, hugged, talked, and laughed. Then, she dressed in her cap and gown and the ceremony started.

It finally hit me that she was leaving me for good. This was different than the day she left for college. Now, she was leaving school and had a job. We wouldn’t be able to relate to each other in the same way. She would become an adult in the real world, and I would stay a teenager in the small, almost play-like world of high school.

After the ceremony my family and I helped my sister house hunt. She was going to start working for a pharmaceutical company in three weeks, so she was moving to a house closer to the company office. I was dejected to see my sister concerned with real-life matters, like which house was safest or had the least expensive water bill, while I still lived in a simple world.

Dinner that night we gave her graduation cards and gifts. I tried to be happy for my sister. I told her congratulations and that she had done a great job.

The next day my parents and I flew back home. My sister’s job kept her extremely busy, so we went another long stretch without seeing each other.

Now, in my eleventh grade year, I often walk to the patch of clover and search for one that has four leaves. I can never find one.

Yesterday my sister called me on the phone to see how everything was. I asked her how she found so many four-leaf clovers in the woods for me. She replied that she didn’t remember the clover.

I love my sister because she is my sister. I miss loving her as my best friend.





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