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What I know about: Sistering

It's been a quiet couple 'o months on the blog front. There are many stories unfolding, but none that have reached completion and are ready to be told. In some stories, the hero is still Refusing The Call. In others, she has reached the part of the journey where she is about to Approach The Inmost Cave.

The development and unfolding of these stories have been so intense, so creative and surprising, so full of intrigue and love and emotions and life, that I've had to find myself a really, really good therapist. This was a desperate last resort which I only considered after my therapy of choice for the past couple months could no longer assist. In other words, I ran out of Game of Thrones episodes to binge watch. Valar Morghulis.

When my therapist asked why I was interested in meeting, I told her I was concerned about my brain. If you know me at all, you know I am regularly paranoid/obsessed/highly concerned with my brain. I told her that I recognize that my mind is feeling like a television that can't catch any channels and only plays "snow". She asked me what I do for enjoyment. I told her about GOT. She smiled and lovingly replied, "Okay. Numbing". I'm surprised she didn't say anything about winter coming.

And so my work in therapy has a lot to do the opposite of numbing, which is feeling. And feeling is really hard and really scary.

Especially when the feeling is grief.

At the end of our last session, she asked me if it would be okay to go through a meditation exercise to help train my brain to focus. She had said the three magic words, "Help. My. Brain."

I nodded enthusiastically.

I focused obediently on the sounds of the room, the air conditioner, and her voice. I focused on the cool air going into my nose, and the feeling of my hair resting on my shoulder. She asked me to think of someone safe. Someone that is so easy to be with.

And there she was.

My sister.

My sister is five years younger than me, so growing up we weren't best friends. My role at the time was more like mini-mom. I dutifully tutored, protected, and kept her occupied.

My sister remembers our childhood interactions a bit more fanciful.

She told me about her disappointment when she had carefully executed all the directions given to her post-tooth fallout, and nonetheless the tooth-fairy had passed her by. She said I encouraged her to close her eyes and when she opened them again I told her she should look by the bedroom window because I thought I saw something that wasn't mine, but looked very fairyish and might be for her.

My sister also remembers my role as 'uku control officer. She said on many after-school occasions, I would sit on the back porch steps beneath the shade of a plumeria tree and pull 'uku eggs out of her hair. (Go ahead, scratch your head. I know you want to).

I remember sitting with my sister in the dark, peering out of the windows of our room watching the sky light up and teaching her how to count by hippopotamuses to anticipate the thunder to follow. The thunder would shake the walls and windows of our redwood house, startling me, but I was resolute in my calm for the sake of my little sister. "You see, it's not scary". I was determined to help her be unafraid.

As adults, I think the roles have reversed.

My sister makes sure my children and I are never forgotten. She has been the fairy to lead the celebration in two weddings, five baby showers, and lots and lots of birthday parties. She has made every kind of cake we have wished for - dinosaur, chess board, Peppa Pig, Where The Wild Things Are, a 3-tier gigantic cake covered with roses - if we wish it, she makes it appear.

Sisters make magic.

My sister sits bravely with me through the thunderstorms of life. She sat in the darkness of a torn-apart apartment that reflected my torn-apart heart and peered with me through the white plastic blinds onto the wet street outside. We sat close, whispered, and wondered when next the thunder would roar.

She followed me, protectively, through that entire journey. She called herself "nanny" for my baby, but I think she creatively came up with that one so that she could purposefully plunk herself into my home and be there to comfort me whenever life got stormy.

Sister witnessed my falling in love a second time - and ten years later when I told her I just couldn't anymore she said, "I know". And I didn't need to explain anything to her because she really did know. She gave me an adult-sized blanket to go to sleep on a toddler-sized bed and we sat for a long while in the dark and whispered.

Sisters don't let you go through thunderstorms alone.

And yes, 'ukus have hit our home more than once in the past year. I like to focus on appreciating the fact that I must be doing something right as a mom. My kids love rolling in the grass, playing hard, and have lots of friends who hug and cuddle and share head bugs. (Go ahead, scratch your head again). And so after my children have their "special time with mom" sitting for a couple hours under my magnifying light having their head raked with an 'uku comb and dredged in a combination of store bought poison followed by a home brew of olive oil and melaleuca, my sister goes through my hair in search of bugs and eggs. When I put 'uku salad dressing - a special concoction of oil and vinegar and melaleuca - on my hair, Sister puts some on hers so that we both smell like adobo, and we laugh.

Sisters make a way for you to laugh - even in the face of 'uku armageddon.


Perhaps you are in the middle of a hero's journey, and like me,

have run out of Game of Thrones episodes to help you face one more day.

Perhaps you have done everything you were supposed to, and find yourself perplexed and sad, wondering why recognition and celebration and fairy magic have not yet been manifested.

Perhaps the thunder of life is shaking the walls of your heart and you are terrified.

Perhaps it's just 'uku season.


All of this is life. It can be sad, and scary, and sometimes a major pain in the ass - but it doesn't need to be lonely. I think that's the gift of sistering - doing life together and belonging to each other through all of it. Celebrating the falling in love, grieving the falling out of love, celebrating the falling in love again, babies that are born, babies that we wish were born, standing in solidarity against parents and bosses and Republicans and husbands that piss us right off, and sitting in silent witness when our heart breaks and there isn't anything at all to say except, "Do you want some hot tea?" - because nothing says I'm here for you like a hot cup of genmaicha.

If you weren't born with a sister and you need one, let's connect. We can be sisters. I know a thing or two about sistering.

I've had an amazing sister to learn from all my life.

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