From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

Always There for Me

She takes my hand and leads me along paths I would not have dared explore alone.

Maya V. Patel

I look around my room, and I see hundreds of faces. All over my walls are pictures of smiling moments, dramatic moments, teasing and playful moments. They scream with character or whisper of adventure or mischief. They each have their own personality, but in many of them there is the same person standing right next to me, many times holding me up. She is my identical twin sister, Sarah.

Sarah and I have never been apart for more than forty-eight hours. From the moment we were born, she has been the bigger one, the stronger one, the one most likely to take the brunt of a conflict and shield me from pain. We have gone through every aspect of our lives together, but sometimes that doesn’t make life all peaches and rosebuds.

Two years ago, Sarah and I started to board a plane for our cross-country trip to California. I thought my heart was going to pound right through my chest. I could hear the blood rushing through my veins as I saw my parents’ faces get swallowed up in the hustle and bustle of the terminal. As we sat in our seats, it felt like adrenaline alone was going to propel me right off the runway. Just then, I felt a warm pressure on my hand. Sarah was holding it firmly while gazing out the window.

“Just grab my hand, Kelley,” she said reassuringly. “It’ll be okay.” And I believed her. I knew she would never lie to me. I knew that, after it all, she would be there for me.

We’ve gone through even rougher times together. I was there right beside her last summer when her boyfriend of fourteen months broke things off so abruptly that neither she nor I had known it was coming. I watched her sob on the weather-beaten picnic table in the backyard and knew I couldn’t just stand there. I could hear her cries between birdcalls and mosquitoes buzzing as I ventured out onto the grass. Coming along beside her, I felt my heart tear as I saw her red, swollen eyes and clenched fists. I pulled out a wad of Kleenex and offered it to her.

We didn’t say anything for a while. I just sat beside her on the picnic table and listened to her raspy breathing. Nobody else knows her breathing. They haven’t listened to seventeen years of it at night, while she’s reading or watching a movie. Every breath she takes is a sign of the most profound and special friendship I’ve got. Having a sister as a friend has meant the world to me, but having a soul mate who knows every nuance of my spirit has allowed me to survive, to live and to be happy. She’s there for me, and I have tried to be there for her, too. I think my sister says it best in the heart-shaped stained-glass sun catcher she gave me years ago. It says simply: “Chance made us sisters; hearts made us friends.”

Kelley Youmans

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