Saturday, June 22, 2013


I love how the really important conversations with my sister always seem to take place late at night as one of us reheats dinner while the other watches. We stand on either side of the tiny kitchen, the old wooden table that Dad's father made some forty years ago between us, and we talk, usually a talk that's been a long time coming. Last night it started just as a catch up, and her telling me about the work she has on a camp this coming week, and we made plans to have lunch when she gets back, a lunch we've been planning since she bailed on the Morrissey concert last year. (Bitch.)

On the spur of the moment, it just seemed like the right time to tell her about the scary health stuff that's been going on. She knows there's been stuff wrong (there's only so much you can hide when you live in the same house), but she doesn't know how bad. It took me a few goes to get the words out, mumbling some other rubbish first, and eventually came up with this:

'So I've had some stuff. Like, voices and psychosis. All new.'

'You haven't already had that for years?'


'You've had that stuff for years, right?' 

'What? No! What's wrong with you?'

'What's wrong with me?'

'Yeah, fair call.'

We didn't talk about it much after that. She took the news calmly, and was really good about it, and promised not to tell my parents (I still don't know how to have that conversation). I feel better talking about it now with a bit of practice on a few friends and now that I am mostly certain schizophrenia isn't on the table. She was calm for me. The same way I am calm for her when she needs me to kill a spider or a cockroach. The same way she is calm for me when I have to get a needle or a blood test and she talks sense into me. 

This give and take is still kind of new for us. We've fought and scrambled our way to this strong support that's so good for both of us; we talk each other up and down as needed. It's a dynamic that runs the gamut from: 'How can you possibly think that? What is wrong with you?' to 'Oh my god, I thought exactly the same thing, you're in my head' and carrying on full conversations with movie and comedy quotes from people we love. We have three brothers, but they're not like us much. There are things that she and I share that no one else can.

Last week I read an touching series of interviews conducted with sets of sisters. The sister of Alison Bell, the actress, said something that cut through to my heart: 'The best thing about having a sister is that it's Alison.' 

It's a beautiful thought, and one that I believe too. The best thing about having a sister is that she's Clarence.* It's not always easy, but it's worth it, and it's the most important relationship in my life. 

She's not perfect, but she's my person. 

*her nickname


  1. A sister is something I've never had and it seems the relationship with a brother or a sister is something very special. That's why I 'found a sister' for myself, one of my best friends. (I know it's not the same, but it's something.

    Glad you finally told her.
    And nobody is perfect.

    Loves ya!

  2. Lovely. Made me crave a sister person of my own!


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