My sisters and I are not sweet, nor are we a sanitized version of Sisterhood. We never lose at “Red Rover, Red Rover Come Over”- nobody gets through our linked arms. “Come on you wimp, you can’t get through.”, we taunt. Our language is Sisterspeak and few would understand why we are laughing so hard about llamas or Sister Margaret Mary. Some of us speak softly and are more reserved, but none of us are shrinking violets. I suspect I am the most opinionated sister, but all of us have beliefs or opinions we passionately defend. You can’t herd cats and you can’t herd me and my sisters.
I am the oldest, a bookend, and my sister Lisa is the youngest, a bookend — in between are 6 sisters. Lisa and I talk about being bookends and how it is our job to keep all the sisters standing tall. We know we will lose a sister soon as cancer is on the attack again, but she will never lose her place in the Sisterhood. Our arms are linked, holding her up and creating a safe place for all of us to grieve and say good-bye. Laughter also helps us to process and remember our shared history.
Our Sisterhood is composed of individuals with strong personal identities. How the hell do we manage to keep the Sisterhood strong and united? I think it’s because we know that no sister is an island. (Apologies to John Donne) We honor our shared identity of Sisterhood and recognize that we are not in this alone. The Sisterhood is not a fixed entity, but a living and breathing organism. Although we grew up in the same home, our histories are not the same and our relationships are not the same. The circle of Sisterhood is strong but not static. Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? It seems to be in the Sisterhood.
Through the years, as a Sister, I’ve been angry and hurt, compassionate and kind —sometimes all at once. Confident in the love of my Sisters, I have learned to love myself. I never doubted that my Sisters would hold me up when Roger died. We share our “dime” stories to remind all of us that Roger is looking out for me and my Sisters. In many ways I have learned who I am within the circle of Sisterhood.
I love remembering how a bunch of us Sisters would be getting dressed upstairs, and how we ran back and forth between bedrooms in our under wear, raiding each other’s closets. There were quite a few “discussions” about who could wear what. I learned my fashion sense or nonsense from my sisters. There are still certain articles of clothing that are remembered fondly or raise the question about what ever happened to them or who stole them. Memories are a part of the mortar that holds us together. Laughter holds us together too.
My sisters and I are doers, we get it done. A lesson learned from Mom. Why is it that when you most want to change something, “doing” is not the answer. Perhaps the Sisterhood has shown the most strength in the yielding to and acceptance of our Sister’s coming death. We have to let her go, but not before we have loved her fiercely, the way that only Sisters can.