It was 1988. I was two; my sister had just turned four. She was everything I wasn’t. She was a brunette with olive skin and I was an almost-albino with clear blond hair. I loved Barbies and dress up; she loved reading. I got all the attention and presents. She got babysitters and microwavable dinners. I lost all my hair, lived in the hospital for six months and received radiation treatment. She got to play with her friends all day. I had cancer; she didn’t. I got a scholarship for having been sick. She didn’t. This I believe is why we had never uttered those three words.
Growing up, all I ever wanted to do was be like my sister. She dressed trendy, so I dressed trendy. She spoke slang and listened to secular music so I began doing the same. She was gorgeous and wanted by all the boys, in which case, I quickly became the “little sister” they all tried to suck up to. But I didn’t mind . . . at least they knew me! I let her borrow my clothes but whenever I asked to borrow hers, I had to cough up five bucks or two shirts for her one. She would push me around and talk me down all the time, at home and in public, but I just brushed it off because she was my sister, she was older than me, and I was supposed to love her. Our quarrels, which happened frequently, would bring my mom to tears.
It was 2004 and I was getting ready to graduate high school and head off to college. Senior year was incredible and my biggest worry had been deciding where to go to school. My choices had been narrowed down to my hometown’s university, which according to my sister, was the better school, or leaving the nest and heading south a few hours to be on my own at State. State was a little more expensive so I was leaning more towards staying home, but my heart yearned to leave—leave town, leave my high school, more importantly, leave my sister.
I ended up leaving the nest because I knew if I didn’t, I would regret it the rest of my life. Plus, I received a scholarship. A scholarship, whose sole purpose is to recognize and aid students who have had cancer, or are being treated for cancer. A scholarship my sister didn’t receive because she wasn’t lucky enough to have had cancer. A scholarship that, had she received it, would have allowed her to leave home too… at least that’s what she says every time the subject is mentioned.
This I believe, is why it took her moving 3,000 miles away for us to become friends. This I believe is why, in our twenties, we finally understand each other. This I believe is how I am able to tell her, “I Love You.”
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