My world upside-down

Rachel Chen, Featured Columnist

    It was almost like she was dead. I remember my mom telling me not to say that, but it was how I felt. For the past 13 years, my older sister had been with me through everything. Through the six times my family has moved, from Texas to Virginia to British Columbia and back. She was with me when my parents fought, when I lost friends and whenever I began to lose sight of myself.

     I had never liked to tell other people how I felt about things. I would not even tell my parents or even some of my closest friends about what was really going on in my personal life or what I actually thought about things that happened. But with my sister, I could tell her anything, and I always felt like she would understand me. She was, in short, my best friend. Sometimes on weekends, I would “sleepover” in her room and we would talk for hours about everything and nothing until it was so late that we could barely keep our eyes open anymore.

     Three years ago, however, that all changed. Nothing tragic or dramatic had happened to us. My sister just left for college. I had known it was going to happen all my life. Yet I had not expected it to happen so suddenly. I wasn’t prepared at all.

     She woke me up before sunrise, right before she left. I said goodbye to her and my dad, who was going with her to her college in Vancouver, and she let me give her a rare hug, something she hated doing, before they left. I went back to sleep, and when I woke up later, it felt like an ordinary day.

     My first day without my sister went on like normal until seventh period. Our biology teacher was letting us work in groups that day and mine was especially loud. Two of the guys, one of them who was my friend, started whispering and laughing at me. I knew they were teasing, so I immaturely threw my pencil bag at them and shrugged it off like I usually did, but that day, they actually hurt my feelings.  As I walked home, I started crying the more I thought about it. I remembered that my sister would not be there when I got home and I felt even worse. Life would never be the same for me again. My better half was gone.

     The house felt empty that night, and for the first time I started to really talk to my mom. We ate dinner, just the three of us – my mom, my little sister and me. I set the table for five out of habit, and sometimes I still find myself doing that.

     Before my sister left, she had told me I could call her whenever I needed her. I told her I would probably call her every day. Little did I know, our schedules would conflict to the point where I could only call her a few times a week at most. Even when I did call her, high school problems seemed too petty to bother her with when she had to deal with college ones.  

      Life went on anyways. The first year, I just felt lonely. Long nights where I stayed up alone past midnight with homework were the worst. The darkness of the night and the silence of the house were unbearable, no matter how loud I turned up my music. I tried to find comfort with my friends, but eventually felt like I was just being selfish, expecting them to understand me like my sister did.

      The second year was a little better as I got used to not having my sister at home. It was still weird not seeing her every day, especially since she didn’t come home at all that year, except for about two or three weeks in the summer. It was odd not celebrating birthdays together since we were both born in the fall. Her absence meant we would never celebrate together for at least the rest of my high school years. Holidays like Christmas seemed to be missing something without her too. Our “Christmas tradition,” as I had called it when I was younger, of decorating the tree together every year was missed that year. My whole world was sort of off-kilter.

      This year, we are both juniors. I like to think that I grew more independent.  Despite the three years apart, we are still close, but I don’t feel lonely as much and I no longer feel like I need my sister to tell me what to do when I have problems. We may not talk as much as before, but when we do I can tell her things even though I’ve come to realize she doesn’t have all the answers. She’s not the person I had idolized, but a friend, and a dreamer like me. Sure, our relationship has changed. Our conversations have drifted from childish things like our stuffed animals to subjects like books we’ve read and our future plans, but lately I’m finding that we have more in common than I thought we did. Of course, the next time we see each other, we will be different people.  But it will be okay, because although we’ve learned to live on our own, we will always be sisters.