Thursday, October 20, 2011

a toast for my sister.

As I've mentioned a few times now, my little sister is getting married in three short weeks.

Since somewhere in the book of sisterly duties it says that big sisters are maid of honor material, I am maid of honor material. And even if I'm not, I will simply have to do. There are times that I look back at my mother tying us together at 9 and 7 in a futile effort to force us to learn how to get along with one another and I have to laugh because somehow, we arrived here.

(Yes, she seriously tied us together with pieces of fabric. We weren't harmed. She untied us for bed, but left us together for meals. Our father traveled a lot for work. I think she was pretty ingenuitive.)

We have now arrived at the point where we don't have to be tied together with fabric to understand that even without the knots, we're held together by some strange force that comes from growing up side by side, enduring all the weird and terrible things that happen within a family everyday.  Upon inspection, the weird and terrible might not really be so weird and terrible, but you'd never dare compare it with anyone. We shared the weirdness. We are sisters. We'll always be tied together.

You should know that everything about my sister happens in a whirlwind. She's a tornado that tears through town and stirs things up. She'll level one house and barely leave the one next door a breeze. She'll rage in a fury and deceive you with her eye in the center, only to flare back up almost immediately with a vengeance. She is a force of her own, she needs no source and doesn't follow and pattern or a logic. She never lacks energy, creativity, or originality and has never sought approval or pats on the head from authority.

She is my only sister. She is all I have to go on as sisterly relationships go. In some ways we mirror each other and in as many more, you'd never believe we came from the same family. At times, our relationship has been volatile. I was a bossy and bitchy child, hell bent on having my own way despite the desires of anyone else. My sister has had bouts of self destruction and moments where I am to blame for any wrong that ever came looking for her. Yet with everything we've gone through and everything that has happened,  we find ways to love each other more and our relationship grows stronger every day- despite all of the things we'll never forgive each other for; there will probably always be those things between sisters.

We are sisters, we are at times each others worst enemies and at times each others only ally. I know no better way to describe the teetering balance in the relationship of female siblings. The bar swings heavy one way or another between the two poles, and you're still stuck with each other. Sometimes it's a happy accident and sometimes it's a sentence you'll never live long enough to serve.

She is my sister, and I love her.

But what will I say in my speech in three weeks?

It's too much to try to express it all in a few short moments, all my hope and congratulations, with guests barely listening as they peer longingly down their flutes, waiting to make contact with the bubbly nectar teasing their lips. I know my family, trust that they love their champagne.

Maybe it'll mean nothing to them as I pour out the story of my first decipherable memory, the day my sister was born. I wasn't even three years old, but I remember details from that day, tidbits of realization that no one could have painted for my memory. I'll start my speech with that fact, maybe pepper in some details. My parents will nudge each other and smile knowingly, because they know that's my first memory, of course they do.

They'll lean over their table and mouth to the family members they're seated with, "She remembers it because she's never forgiven us for not making her an only child!" And there will be muffled laughter, but by then I'll already be explaining how that's not the way I see it.

The way I see it, in life there are moments that stick out like sore thumbs. They can be raw, embarrassing, make your heart skip a beat, or cause you to cry out, but they change you, alter something untouchable but true. They're vivid and bright and significant because of what they do to shape you, and everything afterward that you do, think, or say is slightly influenced by that single slot in time. The moment I met my sister was one of those slots.

My sister's presence in my world has shaped it. She has made me stronger, made me feel deeply, weakened my resolve at times, challenged me, made me hate myself, and taught me so much about life and love. She is an anchor that hasn't let up or allowed me to blow away since she planted herself deep into my person. My sister, she is a part of me. A pivotal part, the first thing I've loved constantly and consistently that wasn't provided for me at birth. That's a long affair.

I'll try to explain it all and fall short and start fumbling a little over words. I'll look Matt over at for comfort and instantly regret it and start getting heady with emotion. The express lane straight to hysterics.

I'll mention that I bet her new husband remembers the exact moment Hurricane Beth blew into his life and the ensuing battle to catch and contain her. I'll warn him of what he already knows- not to discuss anything serious for at least an hour after you get her out of bed and the like, but not too much. I'll commend him for holding her attention and winning her peculiar heart. I'll plead with him to try his best to help their relationship grow and blossom the way that I know in my heart she'll do hers. And then I'll thank him for being the man it takes to gently and sometimes not-so-gently handle my sister's mind, soul, heart, and body.

And then I'll thank my sister for being the first to know how to gently and sometimes not-so-gently handle my mind, soul, heart, and body. I'll tell her I love her and I'll cheers to a happy and laughter-filled life. I'll joke about nieces and nephews and the revenge I'll get on her through spoiling them unforgivably. I'll chug two glasses of champagne and smile my biggest smile.

And then I'll march straight to the bathroom, lock myself into a stall, rest my hair-sprayed head on my thighs and weep.

Because she is my sister, and I love her.


1 comment:

  1. I just teared up a bit. This is perfect. This is everything I wish I could have conveyed last weekend, but different.