Being a sister comes with a lot of perks. Perks like free access to closets, late night Mindy Project marathons and a number to call when your boyfriend breaks up with you and you just need your best friend.
Being a sister also comes with a lot of responsibility. Responsibility like always taking their side against your parents, covering for them when they sneak home late and forgiving them when they lie to you.
But the biggest responsibility is to look out for them. Sisters are supposed to protect each other, to make sure the other is not just surviving, but thriving. They’re supposed to save each other, to make sure the other is not falling, but flying.
That’s what sisters are supposed to do, what we are responsible for. It’s the darker side of all the good stuff, it’s the fine print on legal documents that everyone forgets to read.
When you’re a sister, you don’t even get the chance to read that fine print before you sign. You sign on the dotted line the minute you’re born, the minute you become a big sister or a little sister or a twin. You are born with that responsibility.
And it isn’t easy. It isn’t easy at all. At least it’s not for me. So that’s why I’m writing this, a letter to my two sisters, apologizing for why their middle sister couldn’t hold up her part of the deal, why she couldn’t be who they needed her to be.
First, to my big sister.
I know it wasn’t really my job to protect you. I know as a little sister, you’re supposed to be looking out for me, you’re supposed to be my defender. But sometimes, it’s the other way around, sometimes you are the one who needs defending.
And that’s where I failed you.
You were falling, drowning, crashing and I didn’t know what to do. I begged you to talk, I ate more than I wanted just so you would eat SOMETHING, I cried to my mom when I heard you throw up. I remember sitting on the floor in your bedroom, telling you everything that was beautiful about you.
It wasn’t enough though. Nothing I did was enough. Somehow I never knew the right thing to say or the right place to be or the right way to love you.
But I tried. I tried with everything I had. At least I can say that, big sis. I tried.
Which brings me to you, little sister.
You are the one I am most sorry to, the one I should’ve done more for, the one I let down.
The day I left for college, is the day I ripped off the rearview mirror so I didn’t see you. It’s the day you were left holding out your hand for me and I turned my back.
You were falling, drowning, crashing just like our other sister except maybe even worse. You had no one because of me.
Because of me, you went through horrible things I wouldn’t wish on anyone, especially not my best friend.
Because I was too self-absorbed, too focused on my own life, I didn’t know how dark yours was.
I didn’t even know you needed protecting.
But you did and I wasn’t there.
To be fair, none of it was on purpose. Although that’s almost worse isn’t it? Is it worse to intentionally let someone go or to do it accidentally, to do it because you are so unconcerned that you somehow forgot they existed? It doesn’t even matter. What matters is that I didn’t uphold my side of the deal as a sister. I didn’t do the one thing I was supposed to do.
So to both of you, this is my promise. This is what I will devote the rest of my life to.
To loving you, to making you smile, to watching you get married, to spending holidays gossiping about the latest family drama and sometimes (ok, probably often) drinking too much wine. And most of all, to being your protector whenever you need it, whenever you find yourself on the edge about to fall, I’m here now. I’m not going anywhere this time.