By Regena Handy
They came in the restaurant door together, laughing as they entered, four women with characteristics similar enough to identify their relationship as sisters. I discreetly watched from my position a few tables away, smiling to myself, aware of the familiar tug of innocent envy.
Though I don’t have any sisters and always wanted one, I am still extremely lucky. For I did have two brothers that I loved more than life.
Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to grow up an only child. My brothers have both been gone for many years, so in a slight sense I suppose I can empathize. Certain people say they hated being an only child for they always felt so alone while others felt quite the opposite.
I’m well aware that for all the wonderful, close sibling relationships that exist in this world, there are just as many to the contrary. Loving our siblings does not keep most of us from fighting like cats and dogs, especially during growing up years.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always end then. I recall once making the comment in the presence to an acquaintance that I’d love to have had a sister. Her reply was, “Why? My sister and I hate one another. We always have. I never see her.”
But for some no other relationship compares. Siblings are the people who have seen us at our best and worst. They are the ones that we know we can call in the middle of the night , if necessary. Sure, a good cursing for waking them may ensue, but we know they always have our back.
They might, just like my teenage brother did in front of his male friends that I was trying so hard to impress, asked why you are wearing that horrible blue gunk on your eyelids.
Perhaps you threatened all kinds of dire retribution when your sister borrowed your clothes — or makeup — or ratted on you to your boyfriend.
Or there could have been a yelling match like the one at my house that almost blew off the roof. My oldest son had an expensive shirt with an athletic logo or number or some such. My youngest son loved it and wore it a few times (without permission, of course). After numerous threats from his older brother, he managed to again sneak out of the house wearing the shirt. Unfortunately, it happened to be picture day at school and when the proofs were sent home, there was the infamous shirt for all the world — and his older brother — to see.
Many people with siblings have similar stories they could tell. That they hated their brothers or sisters — and loved them. That they would call you an idiot to your face yet defend you to the death if someone else did the same. After your parents are gone, they are the only people who exist that share your early history. And, once they also have passed, you feel a loss like no other.