When Your Sister Turns Her Back on You

I am the youngest of eight children. My oldest sister is six years older than I. Our mother became ill after having me. So naturally my eldest sister stepped in and took care of me as best as she could when I was but an infant. My mother passed away on what happened to be my sister’s birthday, my father’s passing came not too long after.

Looking back on my childhood, I see my sister in and out of my life at different intervals.I remember being separated from her for I don’t know how long. The day she came back,I was elated . I hung on to her when I finally saw her and I asked her.”Will you stay for a hundred days?” Back then at that age, that increment of time seemed like an eternity in my young mind.I looked up to her like a form of God at that moment . My sister… my hero.

Then there was the day that she had to leave me to come live in the United States. I was devastated. To this day I remember that we ate watermelon sprinkled with salt for breakfast. Then she was gone. I wasn’t taken to the airport to see her off. All I knew was she was gone for good.We wouldn’t be bathing our dolls anymore or letting them sit in the sun to dry off while we washed their clothes.

A few years later,my turn came to come live in the United States. I was being torn away from my other sister and brother. My last night with them,we all huddled closely in the same bed Each of us trying to comfort one another. I recall going to sleep while my other sister rocked me …I couldn’t stop crying and neither could she.

Boy was I ever surprised when I stepped off the plane on May 7, 1976 at Miami International Airport to be greeted by my eldest,”long lost sister”. It was the salve that my aching soul needed to feel welcome into a new country, family and life!
My first Christmas in the United States came and went with much fanfare. A lot of relatives came to visit. The music was rocking the house. Latin sounds permeated the atmosphere. Plenty of food and spirits to celebrate the season. In all the festivities,no one noticed that the two orphaned sisters were quietly tucked away in grandma’s bedroom. The older held the younger as they both rocked back and forth. Crying, trying to find comfort in each other’s arms.

Then there was the last Christmas that I saw my sister as a child. She came with my aunt and grandma just for the week-end. The hours flew by so quickly. When it was all said and done,she was on the Greyhound bus on a cold,damp, dreary morning. I went straight to my bed and I hugged my pillow so hard,wishing it was her instead. To this day, I still feel that ache;it reminds me of that nagging tooth ache that tells you to go see a dentist pronto or else you’ll be in for far worse.

So now where are we? More distant than ever. Life has dealt both of us blows. She is a success in her world. What she thinks of me? I have no idea! I used to resent her for still trying to mother me when I needed a sister. But time has whittled down those feelings too and left in place understanding. If she was with me right now what would I tell her? Thank you! I’m glad that you are my sister. I regret having hurt you but I was being merely human. To err is human to love is divine…I accept you with all your shortcomings and strengths will you do the same for me? I love you Mireya!
Eva Santiago Copyright 2011

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