This I Believe

Melissa - Briarcliff Manor, New York
Entered on June 1, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: change, family

Everyone has heard the adage, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Up until five years ago, that phrase was simply a cliché to me, something I had heard multiple times before without giving its meaning a second thought. However, that dramatically changed when my older sister Cari, left for college.

My childhood consisted of a pretty terrible relationship with Cari. We fought constantly, hurting each other both physically and mentally. There was never a time when I wasn’t jealous of her or outraged by her. I had a fervent need and desire to be the center of attention and wouldn’t settle for less. This craving caused me to throw hour long daily tantrums which, combined with my endless bickering, drove my family into a series of therapy sessions.

Furious at my parents for choosing therapy as the solution, I was determined to prove that it wasn’t the answer. Eventually, each session turned into an hour long waste of time, and the hopelessness for improvement was becoming more blatantly obvious each day. After numerous futile attempts, my family terminated the therapy sessions. All they could do was wait, and hope that I would grow out of this stage.

Before I knew it, I graduated elementary school, the same year that Cari graduated high school. As horrible as it sounds, I was ecstatic for her departure. I even remember the utter joy I felt as I dashed into the house after dropping Cari off at college. She was gone. My dream finally came true. Or had it?

This so called happiness soon dissipated, as something was just not right. Not having Cari’s presence in the house created an unexplained oddity. Her vacant room mirrored my soul in its abandonment and incompletion. This vacancy morphed into loneliness and confusion. Something was missing not only in the room next to mine, but more importantly, in my life.

As I approached the age of twelve, I started maturing and my need to be the center of attention gradually disintegrated. Developing into an entirely different person, physically and emotionally, I became full of appreciation and maturation, soon realizing how lucky I was to have an older sister. During college breaks, Cari and I gradually grew closer as previous explosive fights evolved into mini spats over borrowing each other’s clothes. The blasting music from her room that once annoyed me, now created a sense of completion, replacing the empty feeling that once enveloped me.

By the time Cari’s college career ended, she and I developed a bond with mutual admiration that had once seemed unimaginable. Although it’s unfortunate that it took her absence for me to appreciate her, the fact that it lead to the birth of such a strong friendship and an even stronger sisterhood is something that I would never take back for anything. I can now see and believe with deep heart felt conviction that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.