My sister and I had a … contentious relationship growing up. I’m sure this is not uncommon in most families. Erica and I are very different people. I was the fighter. I fought everything. Going to bed, what to eat, how to dress, when to bathe. I had very definite ideas on who I liked and who I did not. I had a temper and was not afraid to let it out and let it roar… a lot. Erica on the other hand was more shy, quieter, more sensitive, more likely to try to please and less likely to seek out confrontation. It took more for Erica to lose her temper, and her feelings were more tender.
Being the older sister, I took it to be my duty to be both protector and bully. I teased her mercilessly in an effort to “thicken her skin”. I regret these efforts now, but back then in my know-it-all 9 year old mind, if I could just get her used to it, it wouldn’t bother her so much when others did it. If I was within hearing distance of anyone teasing her, I would fly at them with words and fists, because no one bugged my sister but ME!
This isn’t to say that Erica was never the instigator. There were times she would poke and poke and poke until I finally rounded on her, only to find she had timed it so that a grown up would see me “picking” on my little sister and I’d get in trouble. No protests on my part were ever believed.. Erica is a sneaky one.
I’m not sure when our relationship changed. Sometime in our 20’s we began to relate to each as people, not just pain in the ass siblings. We found out we liked some of the same things. We also found out our differences didn’t mean we couldn’t be friends, in fact it meant our friendship had a deeper element because we were able to hear the other’s point of view.
Erica grew up to be a grounded, responsible, concrete sequential “A” type personality who loves to plan. I grew up to be an abstract random “A” type personality who is a flake that never plans anything. I break into hives if I have to plan. Seriously. I have hives on my arms from trying to plan a 2 week vacation for me and my spouse in 2016! Who plans that far in advance!? My sister does, that’s who.
When Erica was diagnosed with MGPN in 2011, I watched my sister rise up and fight, where other people would have folded up and let it win. She fights for herself, for her daughter, for me and for everyone else living with this disease. I’ll fight with her, because fighting is what I do, fighting for her is what I’ve always done.