In my "real life," I have created a network of girlfriends that I adore, women who I call when I need the estrogen-laced advice that only another girl can provide. These women have helped me raise my kids, keep me sane when I'm going nuts, encourage me to say "no" to projects and obligations that will wreak havoc on my home or family, and talk me through important purchases at the mall ("Do I need a green coat or a pink one? What do you think?"). These "sisters" are such a part of my life that I sometimes forget about the REAL sisters that I have, the ones who live a little too far away to be a regular part of my daily life.
My little sister is 9 years younger and lives on the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. I have always made the mistake of thinking that she's "too young" to understand my life. But I've been wrong. She's such a good, strong woman and even though her life is different from my own, she has constructed a good place for herself and it's been my good fortune that she's carved a special niche just for me.
My sister-in-law, who lives near DC, has been married to my brother for just a bit longer than I've been married to Raf. She and I are so different in so many ways. She's a redhead and a crazy-smart career woman with a strong sense of herself and her self-pride, which she's instilling in her kids (with remarkable results). She's worked at the CIA and is a sharp shooter (like my own sister), and I didn't know whether to expect Sarah Palin at the dinner table or not. But really, who cares? The person who greeted me (and bought me a pretzel at the mall) was warm and loving and welcoming and treated me like her own flesh and blood. Moreover, she treated my brother with adoration and respect, which he mirrored back. What else could I ask for in a sister-in-law?
I will never give up my girlfriends - they are with me for the long haul - but I am going to find a way to make these REAL sisters a bigger part of my daily life from now on. I know they're busy and that they may not always be able to tell me what to make for dinner or hang out on the cell phone while I shop for underwear at the mall, but I feel fuller knowing they're out there in the world and that they're MINE. MY sisters.