My sister, youngest of six will be graduating from university today. Alongside my parents, I feel so proud. Was it just yesterday when I held her for the first time when she and mom came home from the hospital? Wasn’t I the happiest when mom finally brought home a pink bundle after four blue ones?
My sister Ariane is 21 now but we’ve only been together during the first 7 years of her life. The rest was spent on long distance calls, handwritten letters, emails and later on chats, video cams and brief meetings once a year or so. We have spent too much time apart that sometimes I feel I do not know her at all. I’d go back home once a year to see my sister changing, growing up and developing a personality so different than mine. We’ve had petty arguments, patch things up again only to argue again. I can’t count the number of times I’ve shook my head in disbelief of the things that happened between us.
But deep inside, I still love her just the same.
Growing up in a brood of five (me then 4 brothers after me), I’ve always wanted a sister. I only got one when I turned 13 and didn’t really ‘need’ a sister anymore. I was not into playing Barbies or braiding hairs in high school. When Ariane was 3 and started inviting me to do girly stuffs, I was starting college. When she turned 7 and finally needed a sister not just for play but for company, comfort and girly cuddles, I left for Japan to study.
My parents would regularly send cassette tapes with recordings of my siblings’ voice while I was in Japan. Those cassette tapes were my line to sanity, especially during winter time when everything just seems so dull and lonely. I would play it over and over until I sleep. Ariane who dominates most of the cassette time, had a shrilly, kiddie voice like Pristine now. Heck, every time Pristine speaks now, I am always reminded of that little sister I had before so far away, calling out my name and singing me songs. I missed that girl and that girl has grown up to be a woman without me by her side.
All these years I have spent wondering why we’d have arguments when we rarely see each other or why she’s like a perennial teeenager who sometimes gets so stubborn, strong willed and defiant. But it must be her way of coping with growing up with 4 boys in the house, it was her own way of standing out in the crowd, to make herself heard. Or is it her way of showing resentment for all my years of absence?
Partly, maybe, yes.
Today I wish I was there as she marches down the stage in her graduation robe to show her how proud I am of her for completing school. But with this post, I apologize for being an absentee sister again.
Soon she’ll be living near me as she starts that journey into the ‘real world’. While I can’t promise to be the coolest sister, I will try hard to make up for the lost time we had.