This I Believe

Janice - Washington, District of Columbia
Entered on September 15, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family

I believe in my sister and me. When I though I lost home forever, I found a new home in sisterhood.

Growing up in Korea, I have been accustomed to independent life even before entering elementary school. My mom was busy working, just as my dad was. I was the only kid who went alone on the first day of school. Amongst excited crowd of children and mothers, I felt proud knowing where to go, carrying backpack in my own hands, and not having my mother waiting for me outside the classroom. I thought I could achieve anything I wanted, on my own.

Such silly arrogance blinded me. It’s painful to try to remember anything about my sister, because the memory is faint and vague. I don’t know what my sister wanted, since I never listened. I never shared brand new Barbie dolls with her. I would run off with my friends, not caring where she was or how much she wanted to play together. I thought the housekeeper lady threw away the clothes that became too small for me; later I found out that my sister wore them. She was invisible to me.

Four years ago, my sister and I, just two of us, moved to America for academic purposes. In a foreign country, being independent became overwhelmingly difficult. Complete absence of parents was an entirely different intensity of loneliness. My sister and I were home staying with a family, who were entirely unrelated to us. It was a very confusing business. They take super good care of your outer shell. Delicious dinner, smiley faces and friendly conversations that never invade privacy. But they can never take care of your inner core, because they simply cannot care enough.

I don’t know how to put into words what I felt on the night I was sick. The cold wasn’t too bad; after one feverish night I was all healthy again. But lying alone in my bed in a small dark room, feeding myself medicine and changing wet towels on my forehead broke the old confidence in me. I terribly missed mom for the first time. Then I understood what it really meant to leave one’s country, home, and family. It’s like being a bird in flight, without a nest to rest tired wings and hide from the night.

I accepted, then, the fact that I’ve always wanted, needed, a truly caring relationship. Whenever my sister would cry because she misses mom and dad, I was so thankful that I could be there for her. It was because I love her, though I’ve been a bad sister. When I realized that she truly cares for me as well, I could not help but ask why. Why would she care for me despite the way I treated her? The answer was quite simple– because we are sisters. The fact that she is my sister and I am hers allows me to be honest and relaxed.

Four years ago, I remember shutting the door behind me. The metal door slowly and heavily closed the view into our home. I left my parent’s home behind, without shedding a single tear or casting another look back. But I could not do the same this time. When I left my sister this summer I was so shaken and uncertain. Frankly, I still haven’t figured out how and what to do without her. But I am not lonely, and certainly not lost. Sisterhood is one stronghold in this rapidly changing world. Though we live apart, I know that we share a nest called sisterhood; a new home where I find my mind’s rest.