My sister Clara
How did she react?
See below, too
How did I feel?
Two girls raised by a single mom means war. Fighting over every second with momma, every glance of hers and every praise from her mouth there is no space for harmony. Let's talk stereotypes: Boys scuffle. They leave marks on each other's skin. Girls on the other hand scratch each other's souls. My sister and I's scars cover our relationship. But hidden under the fighting there is a kind of mutual support I have not experienced anywhere else so far. If you fuck with one of us the other will come running. We are sisters after all. Even back in the days the bonding was there, down below: When I was six and my sister two, we used to share a room. Around that time I went on my first school trip. Clara, who officially hated me, cried herself to sleep that night. According to my mom she told her: "If Rosa is not here the ghosts will come and get me! I know they will!" I never heard her mention the ghosts before or after. A few years later we were on vacation in Tuscany. Day by day we broke our own bitch fight record. Yes, we could scream louder, yes we could hurt each other's feelings harder, yes, we could come up with insults lower down than the other one's. Towards the end of the trip I started a discussion with my mom in the car. We were not serious, it was fun. At some point my mother said, "And if you don't leave it to be now I will drop you off right here." I looked out the window. I saw: Nothing but hills, sunflowers and vineyards. And said, "Yeah, whatever." Like that, my mom threw in an all out breaking. She replied, "Get out." I knew her. I was twelve. She played the game. My sister on the other hand was eight and had no clue. Leaving the car was difficult because I had the worst laughing fit of my life. I literally rolled outside. My mom drove off. One foot, two feet, three-.. Then, suddenly, she stopped. Took a U turn and came right back. I opened the door, surprised she'd stopped the showdown this early. When I saw my sister's face I understood everything at once: Swollen, red, tears covering her face. She thought she had lost me. That's why my mom had interrupted the game. I gave Clara a hug.
Or that time a few years ago when she told me she was being bullied for her height and her looks. I have never hated anyone's guts more openly than those idiot kids ones. My sister is the most beautiful girl in the world! (Which by the way, she actually, really is. I mean, seriously.). Got it? Good for you.
Today she is 19, I am 23. We have grown- but patterns stay. I am still the big sister and sometimes I catch myself shutting her up or her making herself small with me. And yes, we still fight.
Sharing love with strangers is difficult because you don't know them. Sharing love with family is difficult because you know them. Expectations, disappointments, boundaries: All these factors make unconditional praise hard.
Lately my sister has been denying some of my requests. I was angry and sad for a while. Tried to understand and did rationally, but emotionally? No. Maybe I still don't.
Then Christmas approached. I knew I wanted my Christmas compliment to be a special one. One that would challenge me. I chose Clara. Here is what I wrote to her:
as your big sister I don't tell you this often enough. This Christmas I want to point out to you all the gems I see in you.
Here we go:
First of all I am so impressed by how you speak your mind. You take the risk of people being disappointed, furious, even abandoning you- I myself do not always like it when you tell me what you feel. But away from me, just looking at you, I admire you so much for your guts! No matter what, you say what you think.
Your discipline and devotion when it comes to caring and feeding your horse. You don't mind the cold, the rain or the heat- you are out there. There may be fights at the farm, Cali is more important. Props to you for that.
How you work for school and still don't take grades personally. You know how to keep a distance from these judgments. Other people need a lifetime to learn that- you just live it. Hats off!
That you open up, too. You are not just strong and autonomous but you know how to trust. Thank you for that, thanks for sharing with me. I am so grateful to get some insight from you.
How pretty you are! Both your looks and your style has always been and still is something I love, love to look at. You are one of the most beautiful women I know.
Last but not least: I love you to bits, no matter what you do or look like- even if all the things I have written so far did not have anything with the person you are- you would still be my Clara and I'd always be
In my family I am the big crier. But this time around, when I read the letter to my sister under the Christmas tree, she andmy mom started weeping. I stayed calm. This was a premiere. Clara, who is a good deal taller than me, crawled on my lap. That moment superseded the 1997 handing out of presents which so far has been my favorite Christmas ever: Back then I got a doll house. (Yes yes yes!). This year I got a realization: After writing that letter and sharing this incredibly beautiful minute with her I am well aware that I have the best sister in the world. Cheers, Clara.
I forgot something in my praise! Check out the picture. The headbands are handmade- by Clara. She is so, so talented with these things (and I am so, so not). I could not stop holding the band she made me. Believe me when I say: It feels wonderful.