Me and my bestie, a long, long time ago…
My sister and I were watching a documentary – I don’t even recall the topic – and there were two fifties-something women being interviewed who had been best friends since grade school.
When I was a kid, I lived in a town with a local air force base and I had a knack for finding friends whose parents would eventually be transferred to another base, leaving me – over and over again – bereft and mourning for yet another friend who had moved on.
Yes, I did have some friends whose parents – like mine – stayed put. And I am happy to say that because of the miracle of social media, a few of us still remain in touch all these years later. We still recall with great fondness the friendships we forged when the world felt like a younger, kinder place. And on the rare occasions when we meet, we tend to pick up exactly as we left off.
But the women in the documentary, I noticed, still lived in the same town. They had been friends for almost fifty years. They sat companionably close, arms just barely touching. They shared a decades-long common history. They had raised children together; were in the process of becoming grandmothers together. They grinned at the same inside jokes. They knew one another inside and out: no secrets, no missing years to fill one another in on.
I am not a jealous person and only rarely do I feel envy, but oh, the sight of their easy closeness gave me such a pang! ‘How lovely it would be,’ I thought to myself, ‘to have a friend in your life who has been there since you were little kids: through thick and through thin; through births and deaths and the hardest of the hard times.’
I glanced over at my sister who was visiting me at the time and was about to make a comment about this when I realised: she has been there through every single thing I have ever gone through. We experienced childhood – and all its trials – together. When she got in trouble as a kid, she generally came to me first and we figured out together how (or whether) to tell Mom and Dad. We have gone on vacation together – camping, no less – with my argumentative, squabbling pre-teens. At one of the lowest points in my adult life, she was quite literally my rock. I never could have gotten through that time without her. We are currently sharing the loving responsibility of caring for our aging mother; kind of a co-parenting partnership neither of us could have envisaged.
And oh, how we have fought! When we were kids and I was much bigger, I never fought back. I understood that it was not okay for the big sister to hit the little one. It’s been hard for her, as her big sister has gradually found her voice over the years, to have me fight back in earnest (with words of course). There have been a few humdingers I truly regret. And there have been a few times I was really proud of myself: I have practiced so many of my new-found skills at speaking up for myself on my sister who loves me and will always love me, no matter what.
Because through it all, we have always found our way back to one another. There is nothing she wouldn’t do for me (we might argue about it a lot first, though). And she knows the feeling is mutual: I have only ever struck another person in anger once in my life: when that person was hitting my sister (we were kids, but I still remember each blow as I bellowed “Don’t you DARE hurt my sister!!!”)
And here she was in my living room, watching that documentary just a few feet away from me, with fixed concentration. I was going to open my mouth and tell her all this when I realised how sappy it would sound. And my little sister doesn’t do ‘sappy’ very well. Unlike her older sister, she is not given to loving, poetic soliloquys.
She just demonstrates that she loves me.
All the time…
Patti Moore Wilson/© wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com
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