Sweeter With You By My Side, Photo from BradensEye Family Archives

She puts the soul in my sisterhood. She is the super glue behind my ability to bond so well. She gives reasoning to much of my own spirituality because of her raw cynicism mixed with an artful use of curse words and a heaping helping of humor. At times she knows just the right thing to say. Mostly, it’s the fact she listens unconditionally. I won’t dare imagine life without my one and only sibling.

Mine is piqued by pet peeves, poor drivers, and pricks alike. I thought she’d remain an exclusive cat lover, but turned dog aficionado. For one who wasn’t hellbent on motherhood, she’s tackled the mothering experience with extreme care and pounds of chutzpah. She’s ‘Stuffer’ and I’m ‘Spook’ — dad dubbings. Hers harkens back to her sweet cheeks well-fed start and mine for all the stealthy surprise location changes I might make during everyone’s slumber by getting up to go curl with the cat by the fireplace or else instead.

I’m certain I was too young to be asked if I wanted a sibling. Noting I was the first and my sister came almost exactly twenty-two months later there wasn’t any logical timing or wherewithal in me to have debated my parents at such a tiny age. Thank God, too. As I don’t know if I’d have bought into the whole sharing thing that was being laid out as my future. On the parents’ side, we’d already begun our individuality. I was very colicky as a babe and that notorious non-sleeper who would move myself during the night when young enough to toddle around. By comparison, she was the perfect sleeper and smiley baby.

We’re plenty different, which makes us more unique, and more enjoyable with one another because it’s a balance of sorts. As she’d say, I’m hippie at heart with my chakras and all my stuff together. She’s corporate America classy. I love wild roller coasters, heights or daredevil antics, and traveling just about anywhere in a variety of ways. She’s happy to be grounded, by which I mean she prefers staying on the ground to be tossed around to hurling at amusement parks and never a bungee or parachute shall she wish to meet for fun. And she’ll take the five-star hotel, please.

We shared the 70’s plus 80’s intimately and a couple years of our 90’s college days under the same roof. We grew up partitioning the backseat of our parents cars, demanding the other person dare not cross the imaginary line sometimes defined by stuffed animals or a blanket depending the long haul or season of traveling by vehicle. Plenty of times we weren’t split in any way and placed together in bed for sleep due to limited options. Then for most of our elementary into high school, we were in the same bedroom for a few too many years through our ‘teen queen’ (a mom term) wrangling.

We had a common basement playroom with a simple cement floor for roller skating or dress up. Our mutual prized album collection included Prince’s Purple Rain, Olivia Newton John’s Physical, Cheap Trick’s Dream Police, and Marlo Thomas and Friends Free to Be You and Me. Often we’d be seen dressed in matching dirndls or strawberry embossed overalls. Our parents even had professional photos taken of us as teenyboppers in the same striped tank tops of slightly differing pastel colors. Once both of us were driving, we jointly used the family Ford Mustang convertible, along with the mom.

Forced sharing did take its toll. She’d scratch or bite, while I’d wail or run and hide. She was a scaredy-cat. So, I’d sneak snake pages from our encyclopedia set to leave on her pillow for bedtime or keep her hostage watching the annual Wizard of Oz on television during the flying monkeys part to hear her scream. Though I wanted to be entwined in the popular crowd, she was the beauty pageant or homecoming pick. She carried her elegance onward and always seemed to have the better fashion sense. For years I used to steal some of her clothes.

Today we share in better ways: taste in music, beach vacations, her son — my nephew, sometimes clothing and shoes (but no longer stolen by me). She can literally kill (as in badly perform) a karaoke rendition of just about any song same as me. We can both make an espresso martini disappear fast. My favorite pair of red suede cowboy boots I’ve been wearing for ages were handed down to me by my sis when she decided they weren’t quite her look. We’re both happier when things are clean and in their place organized well. Though she hates baking, we both adore eating, especially a supreme dining spot whether low brow to high brow.

I’m not the possessive type so much anymore. I’m an extremely giving person. However, I do think my magnanimous ways were karmically becoming solidified in my youth because there was this other being at my side to divvy with during my formative time. In hindsight, having a sibling has been absolutely one of the greatest and most priceless benefits. She’s my most trusted ally and mega confidante in my family. I know one can’t easily go get a sibling for anyone. But to have a sibling is to learn so many secrets of living at lightning speed. To top it all off, you could achieve the genuine ability to be friends — best friends in my case — with your sibling.

Siblings should be all the rage. Billions of humans have them. I think plenty more of us could use them. Even dogs, cats, elephants, orcas, and wolves tend to keep close with their offspring. I think there’s a real case for how siblings make us better people. I realize it’s not that simple. There’s the effort to make them and the cost factor in the least. What I’m really getting at is the significance siblings provide in buildings life skills and lifelong relationships. As well, science has said that having a sibling supports being super healthy.

I believe anyone can access the sibling sense. While way more than half the United States are traditional families with siblings, the solo child stance steadily rises and without a need for competition. You can be the only kid selfish-free and still reap all the precious rewards of sibling life by choosing your relationships well. Our trials and compassion are a smashing combo to tackle then combat as siblings, but the truth lies in the mere Together is Better process. Many of my non-blood best friends are sincere sisters and brothers to me. It’s why and how we cultivate our sibling-style relations that matter.

So, a toast to all the siblings that ever were and ever will be, with a special nod to my favorite Lara for her blessed birthday today! Tonight I’ll holler my best southern Seven Bridges Road with you during a homespun hunkering-in celebration over libations, fresh guacamole, candlelight, and your contagious giggles.

Cheers to the Lara affect…

HAPPIEST LARA DAY!

LOVER of life. Especially people, places, philanthropy and photography.

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