My Sister, My Friend

My Sister, My Friend

From Chicken Soup for the Soul 20th Anniversary Edition

My Sister, My Friend

A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.

~Isadora James

Tara looked so happy in her cheerleading uniform, like all the other girls who were a year ahead of me. And she knew every cheer well enough to teach me, even though I wasn’t on the squad.

Sitting on the sidelines, with my chubby cheeks propped on my hands, I watched how she radiated confidence and poise, and thought, “Wow. I want to be like that.”

Five years later, she came home from middle school with tales of lockers and crushes. She wore jeans that would never fit me and seemed to already be popular, which didn’t surprise me at all.

As I sat there restricted in my scoliosis back brace, I watched her giggling on the phone with a friend, and thought, “Wow. I want to be like that.”

One year later, she bounced up to the stage, ready to sing her heart out at a theater audition. As I watched from the back row, running my tongue along my braces, I considered finding a place to hide so I wouldn’t have to sing next.

When she belted out the lyrics, with her head high and her arms spread wide, I stared in awe and admiration, and thought, “Wow. I want to be like that.”

The years went on, and like trees planted too close together, we slowly grew apart.

When I left home at 22 after years of hurting and hiding, I wondered if she’d miss me at all.

I never knew how she felt about anything, and she never knew me right back.

She didn’t know why I didn’t love myself. She didn’t know that I didn’t believe in myself. She didn’t know that I wanted to help myself, but couldn’t seem to figure out how.

After years of moving, stumbling, and growing, I started finding my way. And I decided to do my best to help others who might feel a little lost.

Though I hoped I did that through my writing, I also reached out to my sister, who was going through a tough time and needed support.

Whether it was advice or an opinion or simply an ear, I wanted to give it all.

Five Christmases ago she gave something back, the best gift I’d ever received. Amid the boxes and bags and stockings and cards, there was a paper addressed to me.

It read:

There is a girl who inspires us all

She’s blonde and stands around 5 feet tall

She’s seen exotic locales and far away places

But she’s grounded in life with the issues she faces

She’s affected so many, especially me

Her story is one of great victory

Let’s examine the journey that has been her life

It’s had many highs, but also some strife

Academically talented at a very young age

Even early on, she made her way to the stage!

She traveled quite often and lived on her own

It’s wonderful to see just how much she’s grown

She is a success in the true sense of the word

To call her anything less would just be absurd!

I look up to her despite my being older

She’s always been there for me, and offered her shoulder

I can’t say enough on how much good she has done

When it comes to compassion, she is second to none.

What lies ahead for her you ask?

Her future is bright; she is up for the task

I love her so much and she makes me so proud

I hope she realizes, it is I she has wowed!

Tara has given me more than she may realize. After all those years of looking up to her as my sister, I’m grateful she’s by my side as my friend.

~Lori Deschene

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