Sunday, June 27, 2010

Reflecting on National HIV Testing Day

I don't feel particularly close to my sister. Or at least I don't feel like I think I am supposed to feel in accordance to the Hallmark cards I've read and the Lifetime movies I will deny I have ever watched. It's ironic (pay attention Kevin... irony explained) because we are actually very close in age. Seventeen months apart were our births to be exact. So we grew up as "Irish twins" so to speak. I have horridly embarrassing Christmas photos from the early 80s to prove it.

When we were very young we were forced into having the "benefit" of being each other's built in playmate. I didn't think it was so bad. I'm the older sister. I used to watch her sleep. She had blond hair and big brown eyes... tan skin and the cutest little grin ever. I felt like the family outcast with my brown hair and glasses. We shared everything whether we liked it or not. Those nights that we shared our bedroom and a bed, I would lie awake and watch her sleep and just admire her perfectly cute button nose. One time I even bit it. Not too hard. I just had to have it in my mouth.

We are both adults now, and I don't bite her anymore.

Last summer my sister came to me, very upset because she had found out that someone she'd slept with was "sick." I think that's all she told me, just those words. I didn't say or ask anything. I just listened to her. Then I tried to make it explicitly clear that she wasn't a horrible person like she was insisting that she was. I took her to a health clinic the next day for a free HIV screen and afterwards held her while she cried in the parking lot from the relief of it all.

We talked about it a little... the choices she'd made and the future choices she wanted to make. I never feel comfortable talking to her like that. Even though I was born only seventeen months before her, sometimes it feels like it was seventeen years. Sometimes I feel like I'm mothering her. And I don't want her to feel that way. Maybe she does too. Maybe she wants to feel that way. I don't know... Writing about our mother is another blog, another day. Basically, why do I feel like I mother everyone... is what I want to know?!

The only other time I felt like she "came to me" and I was really there for her, was when she stood in my kitchen and told me she was pregnant, in a very unplanned manner. I just hugged her and said, "There's plenty of time to sort out how you feel and what you want to do." Or something like that. Eight some months later I was driving to the hospital because she "couldn't take it anymore" and I sat next to her during her cesarean section... a very unplanned birth to go along with her unplanned pregnancy.

My heart is tied so tightly to hers. She doesn't even know it. She sees us as being very different women, living very different lives. All I see is my beautiful baby sister with a button nose. I see such similarities in us I could never explain to her in words, but I can try here.

We've both fought, a lot, for what we have. I think she assumes things come "easy" to me, and perhaps certain things do. But I hope someday she will recognize and honor the struggles I've had to overcome as well. Though our struggles aren't the same, we are fighters nonetheless.

Our journeys into motherhood have been unplanned. It may look as if my perfect family was... well.. perfectly planned. I think now that as I've come out to my family, she may see things differently. Perhaps not. When I see her mothering her daughter, though, I know that we are truly more alike than different.

I'm proud of her.


Rexie said...

Beautiful post, El. As a reader, I am enjoying the wellspring of thought which has been flowing lately. It seems your newfound friendship is bringing out the lovely best in you.

Becca said...

This is my first time here, and you write beatifully! I have added you to my blogroll, can't wait to see what else you have to say!! :)

Anonymous said...

Moises ftw :)

Anonymous said...

Great read! I want you to follow up to this topic :P

Anonymous said...

Great writing! I wish you could follow up to this topic?!