Monday, February 2, 2009

Sisterly form of hero worship

"I love you."

It slipped out before I had even thought of it. I panicked a little, because we'd never said it before, at least out loud. Sure, I had said it loads of times to the others, but WE had never said it.

I decided not to panic. We were, after all, sisters, and that is definitely something that sisters are supposed to say to each other. Despite the years of emails and letters and Christmas cards ending with "Love you!" or "love ya!" or even plain old "Love," I'd never told her out loud.

Our journey together has been a long one. We shared a room until I was 9 and she was 12. We would spend long hours in the dark, deciding which male TV and radio stars were ours, and which females we "were" (as in, "I'm Crystal Gale" or "I get Michael Jackson.") If a certain person was "yours" then could sing to their songs on the radio. Important stuff when you are young, apparently. I remember feeling so jubilant when I got to be some actress that she had been the last round; aah, sweet victory.

We had a few years of fighting. One time, we were waiting for a ride to go train at a different gym to learn new gymnastics tricks (our first gym was extremely basic, so we spent a lot of time at another gym 2 towns away that had a ceiling high enough for a trampoline. Pitiful.) We were fighting, and I had all my friends around me and didn't want to back down. I reached out and scratched her face. I ran away and hid, knowing that I'd be dead meat if she caught me.

When I went away to Virginia Tech, I got my first email account. It was 1995; most people at home didn't even know what email was, but both my mom and Amy had email addresses at their work. Amy and I emailed almost every day. They were long, open-hearted, no-secrets-between-us missives that I looked forward to every day. I found out how similar we were, and how much I liked being her friend, and not just her sister.

We've shared so many things over the years. Mostly books. I followed her in the last SDBBE exchange (which means that she mailed all the books to me after she had read and commented in them). It was exciting to me in each book to find her red handwriting, to read what she had wrote and imagine her saying it, and knowing the origin of some of the more personal commentary.

The other day, we went and visited my dad together. I have a hard time going to visit him by myself. It's hard to keep up a one-sided conversation for long, and so I usually invite my mom to come. But I called Amy on the off chance that she could go. It was such a relief to have her and her son Kaleb there with me and my sons.

The visit was...typical. We visited with him, even walked down to the common room and had Thomas play a piano piece for Dad. We all put together a puzzle. Afterwards, we all visited my mom who was working a few blocks away. We laughed and chatted and watched the boys play with Kaleb's cool animal toys. When it was time to leave, I found myself hugging my sister. I thought of the last time I had hugged her, on Christmas, when I told her for the second time in my life that I loved her.

I thought about this new aspect of our sisterhood the whole way home. The first time I told her I loved her, we were on the phone, and she was having a hard day or something, and it just came out before I realized what I was saying. The second time was because I was so happy to see her happy. That we are now hugging, without hesitation, like we have been doing it for years, makes my heart happy. I can't for the life of me figure out why it was so hard to get to this point. Maybe it was all those years of fighting over who could sing which radio song, or admire which actress. Maybe it was the left over competitiveness from our days in gymnastics where I had my friends, and she had hers. Possibly it's the shyness of knowing so many of each other's secrets, or the hero-worship that I know I still have.

I do know this: I'm glad I don't have to panic if I let it slip that I love her, or spontaneously hug her in front of a Provo bakery. I'm grateful for our 5 minute venting conversations while one is heading to dinner with her husband and the other at a party.

Whatever it is, I'm glad we are where we are. And I might even let her song one of my songs next time we go together somewhere. I'm growing up like that.


Jeanette said...

Oh my heck, I know EXACTLY what you mean!

Why can we express ourselves to our friends, to our acquaintances, but not the people closest to us?

I think it's a defense mechanism. They know us the best, they have the most weapons against us and know right where to hit us where it will hurt the most. So handing them one more weapon, our own emotions, makes us vulnerable. It's our own protective instincts that keep our mouths closed and our arms at our sides rather than trust someone we should be able to trust the most.

I'm proud of you =0)

Melanie said...

Cute! I can't remember the first time Steph and I said that to each other, but it's been a few years. Now we rarely end a phone call or visit without it. But it doesn't feel like habit - I think it's always sincere. And that led to saying it a lot more often to my other two sisters, although sometimes I think they're a bit taken aback. Anyway, it's nice to have that closeness. And Amy's awesome, so I'm glad that you two have each other.

Amy Sorensen said...

Oh, wow!

This was such a nice post. I've thought quite often about why we weren't nice to each other growing up. Or, more specifically, why *I* wasn't nice. I'm not really sure I know, but I'm so, so glad we got past it! I love you too!

It's weird, though: I don't remember you scratching me. And I remember feeling competitive with Kristi Hainsworth and with Mindy Hitchcock, but not with you. I do remember watching Jack yell at you once and wishing he would stop it, wishing I could somehow teach you what I'd figured out by then, that he was all bark, bark, bark.

I wish I'd figured it out sooner. But I'm glad we finally have it right.

But if it's Olivia Newton John on the radio? Don't even think about singing along! I'm totally her. ;)

Jeff and Kayci Bitton said...

Such a sweet post! I have to say I can see what you mean, Jacqui and I have JUST NOW begun a friendship instead of always having the love-hate relationship of sisterhood. (I am sure you have heard all the gory details.) Thanks for the comment! I hope we get to see each other too! I Love you! ;)

Isabel said...

A beautiful post, as always, Becky. Thanks for sharing.

I don't talk to my younger brother on the phone very ofter...but when I do he always ends with "I love you". He probably doesn't know how much it means for me to hear him tell me that.