From Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul

I Wish for You

Carol and Helen didn’t like the same foods, clothes, boys, books . . . you get the idea. But these sisters loved each other with a heavenly love. Throughout childhood, they played a silly game called “I wish for you.” More often than not, good things did come their way.

Carol and Helen stayed close when graduation sent one of them away from home. Carol married and had children. Helen remained single and found fulfillment in the advertising world on Madison Avenue.

Years passed. One day, the day Carol found a lump, she instinctively ran to call “Sis.” Through a long-distance line and many tears, the sisters comforted one another.

The doctor was very up front: cancer. Carol was stoic, even upbeat. In the still of the night, Carol curled up on the couch and called Helen. By the next afternoon, they were meeting at the airport.

Helen’s visit became indefinite. As the weeks slipped by, so did Carol’s hope. Oh, she’d try to be her old funny self. “Cancer Carol and Healthy Helen,” she’d say. But the prognosis wasn’t good. When the tears came, Helen learned that Carol was fearful only for her family.

On a crisp December morning Helen returned from a predawn walk. Carol grabbed her arm. “I’m scared,” she admitted. Helen was very positive, strangely reassuring. She didn’t even cry.

That evening, Helen suddenly announced she was going home. Carol blinked. How could she leave now? Carol assumed Helen had reached a point where she could no longer deal with a terminal sister.

At the airport, Helen embraced her sister and put a hand to her cheek. They said very little, just the usual good-byes.

Waiting for her doctor one day, Carol gazed at one of the office paintings. Two little girls walking hand-in-hand through a meadow. Carol closed her eyes and could almost smell the wildflowers.

“Carol,” the doctor said as he eased into the room. “I’ll just tell you right now that we can’t find any cancer from these tests. It’s gone, and I have no explanation. You’re cancer-free.”

Jumping up the front steps in one leap, Carol burst through the door. She had good news, she told her grimfaced husband. “But I have bad news, honey. It’s Helen. She was in a car accident today, and I’m afraid . . .” His voice trailed off but Carol knew. And the rest of the evening, indeed, the rest of their lives, was bittersweet.

So, what is your speculation on this story? What do you think Helen did on her morning walk? I like to think she did a little bargaining with someone. Someone who had the power to grant wishes. Fervent wishes. Sister wishes.

Robert Strand

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