Wednesday, December 23, 2009

stay forever.

I am watching Middlest negotiate a river crossing I've never had to cross.  She who does not like to cry cannot speak about Eldest leaving for college without her throat filling with tears.  She dashes the water from her eyes with a quick impatient hand, shakes her head, makes herself laugh.

She hates even the name of the university her sister is aiming for.  Has already planned what she will do that first week - eight months from now - packing the days full with friends who have promised to stay overnight the first night, the second night, a series of different hill runs she will work her way through that week.

That first week she plans to gut their old bedroom, repaint it, rearrange everything.  But not until then.  For now, nothing must change.  For now, they are always sitting together, running errands together, their heads bent together over the computer screen, whispering together in the other room.

Unless she's angry with her sister, which is also happening more frequently than ever in their deeply intertwined lives.  Then it's - "I'll be glad when she leaves!"  And when,  later, I suggest it may be time to mend fences, "Why?  It will never be the same anyway.  She'll go and she'll never really ever come back again."

My own sisters are much younger than me.  I came to know them, as themselves, when we were grown.  They tell me that I was an Auntie Mame - kind and exciting but never intimate, swooping in, swooping out, a sudden focus of our parents' energy and attention, the surprise of packages sent from faraway places, letters full of glimpses that seemed glamorous at that distance.

And I was the oldest - always the one who left, never the one left behind.

A few days ago Middlest insisted I come with her to choose a gift for her sister.  It had to be something her sister would use everyday, something she would never want to discard, something basic and ordinary as breakfast, comforting as a bowl of soup, something beautiful and necessary. 

We both laughed when we realized we were letting our steps drag as we left the checkout, pausing at the automatic doors not just because of a reluctance to go out in the cold. 

"My legs feel heavy," Middlest laughed. "I'm thinking I just want to turn around and take it back and then she'd have to stay forever."


Mrs. Organic said...

It's lovely they're so close, it really is. I can imagine them as young mothers calling each other for support or advice.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

"It had to be something her sister would use everyday, something she would never want to discard, something basic and ordinary as breakfast, comforting as a bowl of soup, something beautiful and necessary."

The photos of the girls are beautiful. Really beautiful. I like how you captured the real feeling with this post.

Filigree said...

That is amazing that they have such a relationship; I did not think that existed. When I was leaving for college, my younger sister (4 year age difference) was ecstatic that she would now be the only child. We were not close, let alone close like what you are describing. What an achievement as a parent to have created such a relationship in your home!

Melissa said...

Oh, dear Middlest, I have an idea how you feel. It's stinky, altogether stinky. But it won't always feel so raw, the separation from your best friend/sister. And you will join her soon, much too soon, actually. I love you girls!!

Melissa said...

I am, of course, talking about going to college and not some more permanent, tragic moving on. Out of context, my last comment may have sounded rather portentious, even threatening!

Cait said...

My dear Melissa, you are so funny. I was lauging so much I could barely read your comments to my mom.

suzanne said...

My all-the-way-grown-up little sister posted for the very first time a few days ago--posted on the blog I set up for her. (See, little sister? This is easy.) Wrote about being left behind, always being left behind. And surprised my oldest self. You aren't behind, you're right here by me. Aren't you? Aren't you?

Emma J said...

Mrs. O - it is indeed one of my deepest pleasures to see their closeness - though contrarily sometimes I feel a little left on the edges - nothing is ever clear and straightforward about love, is it?

Neighbor Jane - kind words! So can you guess what she chose as a gift?

Filigree - I don't think I would have known it was possible either except that I saw my two younger sisters with that kind of friendship - and wanted it for my daughters when they came around - I don't know if any of it can be attributed to parenting at all - beyond reminding them what they were already so lucky to have once they got older.

Melissa - xoxoxo - you know you and Andrea are their inspiration!

Suzanne - I feel the same - have learned more from my little sisters than from almost anyone else - "right here by me" that's exactly what it feels like.

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