For the better part of my younger sister’s existence, I have been there for her, or tried to be. After all these years, she is finally leaving my sight and my side once again.
As children, we shared a room. She was afraid of the dark as much as I was. In fact, I was (am still) the chicken of the family. It didn’t help that my older sister, dc, would always hide behind a wall to frighten the living daylights out of us. But I would brave it, just for her. When her eyes were too big for her stomach, I would end up finishing her food for her, least she gets a scolding from my mom. I wanted to be with her, and mothered her so much that I broke my nose by accident when I couldn’t accompany her to the doctor after she fell sick. By the time she went to school, I was the one combing and tying her hair, ensuring she looked her best, while yours truly always had a bird’s nest going up top.
We rode the school bus together, when we shared the same session. I don’t know if she ever looked up to me as her elder sister (since we have another OLDer sister), but I definitely adored her. I was her senior in school, and took her under my wing when she joined the Girl Guides as a rookie.
As classes became tougher, I stayed up later at night to study and finish my work. She beared with the lights through the night, as I entertained her with songs. She would scold me for the music, but wake up midway through her sleep and start singing.
We had our fights and tiffs. The three of us were always quarrelsome. There was never a quiet moment in the house for my parents. We were no angels by any means. In fact, my parents would call us the devils incarnate. Every waking moment was spent fighting, arguing and screaming. The only time we were quiet was when we were punished, or when we were asleep. Even eating, we would spend time calling shots on pieces of chicken thighs. My mom could never understand why our inside voices were like shouting matches.
My father once went to pick up my younger sister from her cheerleading practice. From the parking lot, he heard my sister’s voice booming at the other end of the school’s field.
That is how thunderous we are. Three times over.
A few years later, I left the country to further my studies. Two years after that, I was picking her up from Minneapolis airport to drop her off at Eau Claire, Wisconsin for her to attend school. Every chance that I got after that, hubs and I visited her, taking that three-hour drive one way. Then she would spend her breaks in Minnesota with us, or we drove into Chicago with her.
A year after she arrived, I graduated. I moved to New Jersey, setting up a base for us. Not too long after that, she too graduated. We shared a dinky little two-bedroom, which felt more like a birdcage, apartment in Fort Lee. The prices in the east coast was shocking to us, compared to the MidWest. Everything, from lodging, transportation, down to our meals were just exorbitant.
Two years later, after doing a little better for ourselves, we moved to a bigger two-bedroom house. We ate in as much as we could to save. The girls would take turns cooking, while hubs cleaned. There wasn’t laundry in the house, so every weekend, we drove to the laundromat outside our place in Cliffside Park to get our clothes cleaned. Soon, my younger sister began to spend more and more time in the clubbing scene in the city. Traveling back into Jersey most nights proved to be troublesome and dangerous.
Then 911 occurred. On that day, hubs and I were still working in the city. I tried to reach out to my younger sister, but to no avail (we later found out all the cell towers were taken out). What worried me more, was that from time to time, she would meet with her clients that had offices near the Wall Street area. Finally we got a hold of her, and I breathe a sigh of relief. However, by then we were told, all bridges and tunnels in and out of the city were closed. There was no way home. When it was announced that the ferries were shipping commuters back into Jersey for free, we jumped at that chance and told her that. We still missed each other, as hubs and I were forced to stay the full day at work, while my younger sister went home first. I have never been more relieved to see my sister that day.
A year later, she bought her own place in Jackson Heights and moved out from Cliffside Park. We began to see less and less of each other. Weekends were spent catching up with life. Holidays became precious to us. We saw each other only on special occasions: birthdays and major celebrations. The time spent apart made the little time we shared together even more special. Still, she was close enough.
In that same year, hubs and I got our own place in North Bergen.
A few years later, she introduced us to someone she was seeing, not sure if this was it for her. The precious little time that we spent together during holidays were no longer. Instead, she began to make trips up to Canada during the holidays to see him. Soon, even Thanksgiving and Christmas were spent away from us. We rarely saw each other.
They got married last year in September, but have since been living apart, much like their courting days.
This past Labor Day weekend, we had a roaring time, beginning with ransacking her place before the Salvation Army came. Then it was off to a friend’s daughter’s birthday party. The following day, we shopped till we almost dropped, followed by a bbq with our family at my elder sister’s new pad, while playing pool.
The one hour traffic into Jackson Heights suddenly doesn’t seem as daunting as the 10-hour drive up to Toronto. We won’t be spending our birthdays together, which we have celebrated together since young. But maybe now we can have her on major holidays (probably excluding Chinese New Year).
We will be sending her off soon. She will officially leave the Big Apple for Hogtown. But no matter the distance, no matter the fights, the sisters will always be sisters.
For two weekends in a row, we ransacked her place to salvage her things that no one wants but were too precious to be passed on to strangers. Even the plants were relocated to new homes, aside from the mundane dishes, pails, racks, plastic bags, gloves, tea, sugar, and, yes, even an air gun.
Today I said goodbye to the little sister I have been doting on all my life, again. Today we part ways again. Today I cry out to not laughing with her again. But someday, when the wind of change blows again, we will be together again.