Somehow at age 42 I've become a big sister. Kaity, at 37, is bravely moving her body and mind and spirit through ovarian cancer and has 33 days left on her chemo protocol. A complete hysterectomy last spring sent her body into early menopause. It's been a wild ride, but one I've been honored to tether to.
For once, in the face of potential loss I have moved in rather than away. It's interesting, because until now I never knew my "role" in her life-- not in any official way. And for a person like me, always wondering my role in everything, it's been nice to just listen, mostly; to speak when necessary, but mainly simply to be there when I can.
Kaity has a yoga teacher, many doctors and nurses, a life coach, a sponsor, an acupuncturist, a reiki practitioner, an intuitive healer, and numerous friends and allies.
We're from similarly screwy homes rife with substance abuse and confusing family dynamics.
As we sip tea, she says that she likes me because I understand.
When she says she can't trust, I get it. When she says she only recently learned to put her own needs not first but anywhere on the list, I get it. When she tells me she struggles with her body and accepting it, unable to find anything that feels like home to her, I get it. I've been there, on all counts, sometimes for years at a time.
I ask her, I know this isn't about me, but what role can I play-- what can I do for you? What am I to you, do you think?
She gazes at me and point blank without much hesitation, replies, well, I think of you as my big sister who gets it. I don't need to explain myself to you. You've been there.
I think she means I've felt the disappointment when the parent doesn't get sober, when the needs don't get met, when nothing feels stable, really, ever, no matter what it looks like on the outside. I've felt that and I've been working, just as she has, to reach out to create the tribe I never had, and to reach in to find the jewel inside. And that now, with what’s left, I honor connection, consciousness, awareness, feeling. These things matter to me, a lot. More than anything else.
I pause, feel the tears welling up. BIG SISTER. Me, who likes to isolate. Me, the supposedly spoiled only child. I could be a big sister. This floors me. I've never heard this before, never considered it. Not like this. It feels like someone pinned a medal on me.
We both cry, sitting there at the coffee shop: two grown women, for a moment each of us seeing our worth to the other, bald heads and crows feet and fucked up families and body image issues and inventions and re-inventions ad infinitum and all. Not just seeing our worth, but feeling it, knowing our worth, even for a moment. Sisters.
Note: Back in mid-October of this past year I shared this again with Kaity, as she sat in the hospital battling cancer for a third time. I asked her if it was okay then to post it, and she said absolutely. It still didn’t feel right at the time, not knowing exactly what was coming and so I held back until today.
The preciousness of the time we spent together in the fall will never leave me, has changed me forever. I’ve written about that also and will post it soon. DW