Caitlin Schanaker
April 04, 2015 6:26 am

I have always wondered what it would be like to have a sister.

My mom and I went to Home Depot a while back, and I wandered around in the garden section for a while, eventually stumbling upon two gorgeous pink roses. They were growing side by side. Rosy sisters. Something struck my heart in that moment. Perhaps it was longing, or a little bit of remembrance for my younger self, who always begged and wished for a sister. Or maybe it was a little twinge of something else entirely, a nameless emotion tied to seeing something simple and beautiful.

I grew up with 3 marvelous brothers whom I love deeply, and friends and cousins that I attached myself to as a surrogate sister. I always envied my friends who had sisters, and would often chide them when they fought because I couldn’t comprehend fighting with a beloved sister if I was lucky enough to have one. As I’ve grown up and my siblings and siblings-in-law have gotten married, I have even gained sisters-in-law, which is such a delightful bonus to my collection of siblings. And funnily enough, every sister-in-law I have gained is just like me: we all grew up without any sisters. It strikes me as very strange and kind of lovely. What are the odds? We are a gaggle of sisterless women who love each other all the more because we are each other’s first experiences with sisterhood.

Don’t get me wrong: many of my friends have been like sisters to me over the years. I do not belittle those relationships in any way. I had several “sisters” growing up that I still love and cherish. They allowed me to share my room and giggle over secrets. And my sisters-in-law expanded that realm of relationship even further, filling up our family and making it more of a girls’ club.

Even so, I realize that there is a very real question tucked away in the stitches of my being that will never be answered. I’ll never know what it’s like to have a real sister. Which in many ways is fine, because as they say, ignorance is bliss. I don’t really understand the intricacies of what I’m missing. It’s not a devastating or a heartbreaking thought, it’s just something that I know to be true. Just like I know that there are positive influences to growing up entirely with brothers, too. I owe so much of myself to them, including a lot of my interests and many other aspects of my personality. I think it’s possible that I am the friend that I am because I never had any sisters.

In one of my favorite parts of the movie In Her Shoes, Maggie (Tony Collette) is trying to describe her sister Rose (Cameron Diaz) to her husband-to-be, Simon. The first half of this movie is rather dark and sad, illustrating the strain and heartbreak that has wedged the two sisters apart. Maggie is basically telling Simon that her little sister is irresponsible, frustrating, immature, selfish – and that he’ll end up begging her to throw her out of their lives. But then Maggie says, “But I won’t. Because she’s my sister. Without her, I don’t make sense.”

That part (and the parts after) always makes me cry. There’s something very real in that statement. There’s a nature of forgiveness and steadfast love and loyalty that is inherent in sisterhood. It stuns me. I have been blessed to know and love many sisters in the world, catching a peek at what that relationship is really like. I know I get glimpses of it. Because of that, I shall continue assigning myself as a surrogate sister to the many kindred spirits in my life, knowing that sisterhood is a beautiful thing, in every form.

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