I don't have a sister, just an older brother... but sometimes I've wished it was different...
Dearest adored sister I’ve never had,
I’m not sure what has moved me to write to you, it’s something I’ve never done before when perhaps I should have. We have drifted apart, but somehow, as I head into the realms of the well-and-truly- middle-aged, you have found your way back to me.
As a child, I called you Janiece. Sorry. I think it was fashionable in the sixties. And such a departure from the storybook good-girl name Wendy I was saddled with. Like my real-life much older cousin, you had fashionably bouffant hair and glamorous shimmering eye-shadow. Of course, you adored me. We’d giggle as you shared secrets about the world of grown-up girls. We listened to The Beatles and you styled me up just like you. Whenever I drew you, it was in an alluringly fitted mermaid gown, a dramatic fish-tail affair that a pudgy child like me could never wear.
In my teen years, you became Bernadette. I forget exactly what I’d been reading, but you can bet your name was inspired by something romantic, probably set in Victorian England. Your age shifted too. I don’t mean you aged with me, quite the reverse; you grew younger. You were the little sister who looked up to me and admired my many talents and qualities. Nothing like my brother. You never teased or provoked me, never made fun of me. Around you I felt confident and valued. You celebrated my achievements. Around you I mattered. I had worth.
In the decades since, at university and in my career, you have floated in and out of my thoughts as a memory, a ghost from a dream. Until now. Now, you are back… nameless… formless… but none-the-less… back. Only now I feel you as an absence.
I do not care about your age. Or your fashion sense. I long for the bond of our shared experience—so different from that I have with my brother—for close conversations and soul-sharing companionship. With age, and without the daily contact of a workplace, so many friendships drop away. I find myself with time and space, but fewer people. I find myself falling. My darling sister I’ve never had, I know you’d catch me.