“Why she had to go, I don’t know. She wouldn’t say.”*
My sister moved 3,000 miles to live near me. A dream realized — she’d talked about doing it for decades.
Less than a year later, she’d left my life completely.
She did not leave a note.
After years of cherished intimacy – hanging tight long distance, we supported each other through tragedy and jubilation. Relationship traumas, job changes, marriages/divorces, a life-threatening diagnosis.
Our closeness had a comfortable non-fussiness to it, like the softest flannel PJs that’ve ever kept you cozy. Rarely a rough edge or a sharp elbow.
Our hearts, unerringly warm and safe in each other’s company.
It isn’t blood that makes you my sister; it’s how you understand my heart … as you carry it in your body.Rupi Kaur
Her departure was sudden. And completely unanticipated.
No drama. No goodbyes or parting shots.
Only dead air.
Other than one brief period of situational contact (text only, per her request) in the waning weeks of 2018 when our mother was dying, communication between us had dropped to zero.
As you could imagine, I’ve hesitated to write this tale. Now, just shy of eleven years in the rearview mirror, I can summon the requisite emotional energy and hindsight to veer away from hyperbole or restraint.
Since time has afforded the luxury of distance, looking back is almost as if at historical characters from another lifetime.
The sting of loss has faded. The exhaustive self-inquiry, abated.
Coping mechanisms have ceased grinding their gears.
Like, sporadic rummaging through boxes in the garage for her old letters. Dropping a few of the most poignant ones back into circulation for her to revisit. Hoping to spark memory or a tender nerve for the fondness we once shared.
No return receipt had been requested and none was given. There was no need. Because her silence did all of the talking.
I’d wondered if my fervent aching for her companionship would ever settle down? Or, when I’d muster enough vigor to release the fantasy that my life would be happier with her in it?
I still savored sweet recollections. Of our morning ocean walks one winter in Florida. Heading out each sunrise to the shoreline with our Dunkin’ donuts and coffee to power up for daily beach-brainstorms. Tossing about damage-control strategies for the upcoming day with our mother.
On one of these trips, my sis helped me pick out a pretty new shade of lipstick. That I still wear to this day — and think of her when I do.
I recall with bittersweetness the birthday and Christmas messages I delivered into the ethers for years. Now, resting in peace. Along with any hope that we might one day reunite.
My sister has chipped away all doubt that any such interest is a one-way street. So I stay in my lane. And she in hers.
I’ve added her name to my Do Not Call list.
Our mother surmised that it all had something to do with my sister’s need to play ‘leading lady’ in her own life movie. And that her screenplay had room for but one starring role.
I guess perhaps it took an in-person enactment of our scenes together for my sister to figure that out.
In any case, I’ll never know for sure. But I do sense that the script we followed was both destined and blameless.
A poignant irony. To this day we share the same town – though the distance between us is unfathomably more immense than three-thousand miles.
There comes a time in your life when you have to choose to turn the page, write another book or simply close it.Shannon Alder
No matter where we are, we’ll always share the same sky. We can always find each other in the same constellation.Roshani Chokshi