From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV

New Beginnings

My sister and I weren’t exactly what you would call close. I was three years younger, and I thought she walked on water. Everything she did was perfect, and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. If she wore her hair in twin braids with a pink clip one day, the next day I wore mine exactly the same way. I used to follow her and her friends around, begging to be included, but there isn’t much room in a thirteen-year-old’s life for a pesky ten-year-old sister. As a result, over time, my worship of her became indifference. We were strangers living in the same house, eating together but never communicating.

So when she sat me down last year and told me she’d be going to Israel to study abroad for ten months, I wasn’t too concerned. I figured I would get to wear the clothes she left behind and use her CD player. That was the only way I thought her leaving would affect me.

That first night after she left, I sat in my room and tried to do homework. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong, something was missing. The house was too quiet. No Tova’s CD player and no Tova’s voice giggling on the phone with her friends. Sitting there, I realized just how different it was without her in the house. Even though we didn’t always speak, I had felt safe just knowing she was near.

I cried that night. I cried over all the years we had wasted trying to live our own lives and ignoring each other’s. I cried that I couldn’t even give her a hug before she boarded her plane. But as the night wore on, my tears changed to tears of calm, tears of new beginnings.

I picked up the phone and called her halfway across the world. I waited for her to pick up, my doubts growing with every second.

“Hello?” Her voice sounded as though it came from nearby and not Israel.

“Hey Tova. It’s me, Sara. I just called to tell you I love you.” My words came out in a rush. I knew that if I stopped in the middle, I wouldn’t have the courage to continue. “I know we aren’t as close as some sisters, but that doesn’t mean I’m not missing you a ton.”

For a long time there was only silence on the other end. Finally she spoke. “I’ve been sitting here, all alone, thinking about you guys back home,” she said. “Your voice makes me feel as though I’m right there with you.” And before she hung up she said, very quickly just as I had, “I love you, too.”

I’m counting down the days until my sister returns home, so I can give her the hug I never gave her when she left and say, “I’m so glad to have you home.”

Sara Ronis

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