“Look after your sister, Tee.” June, our mother would say every day when she would leave for work or when we would venture out to play. I took my role as her big sister to heart. Although she would do all the bratty things that little sisters are known to do such as wear my clothes and then push them to the bottom of the dirty clothes hamper when she knew Iwas looking for them, lose every earring she touched or tell if I wouldn’t let her tag along;she was an answer to my prayers.
Months after our mothers’ transition and my big sister guidance had begun to work her very last good nerve. “Well, did you remember to call about this?” I asked again. “Did you take care of that paperwork that you were suppose to turn in?” It was non-stop and I now felt responsible for pulling double duty as her big sister and her mom. One day she let me know that enough was enough. “Just be my sister, dang!” she said. I could hear her frustration through the phone “What do you mean? I am your sister.” I argued, half knowing she was right. “No! You act like you’re my mom and you’re suffocating me. Just let me live!” Her words cut through me and as much as I wanted to argue my important role in her life I knew that she was right. What I perceived as help was only hurting her. It was her life and as much as I thought I knew all the best things for her; I didn’t. As painful as it was to hear, I felt a weight lift and a new freedom to be what we both had longed for from one another. My assignment of Look After Her; became Look In to her. I was to look into my sister and see what I would want for me. For the saying is true; we are a divine reflection of one another. I know that it was not easy for her to say, but through her strength our relationship began to flourish. Here is what we learned.
Listen: It’s one of the best things we can do for one another. Simply listen.Sometimes we just want to know you are there to listen. Put down your phone, I pad or kindle. Stop watching the television, staring at your computer or reading a book. If she is talking, give her your undivided attention. My sister and I would walk together often with trees, fellow outdoor enthusiast and bugs as our only distraction. We’d have so many conversations on my favorite trail, but often it was the things we didn’t need to say that made our time together special.
Don’t try to make decisions for her. This will fail each and every time. If you’re privy to know what is going on and she reaches out to you for advice; simply reviewing her choices, talking it out and encouraging her to meditate/pray may possibly be all that she needs. Maybe assisting her with finding resources is the best help for the situation. Either way your ability to be there for her will be what matters most.
Check on her. Call her. Visit her. Many of us have forgotten the value of hearing one another talk open and honestly. In this digital age sending, receiving and quickly replying to text make us feel somewhat connected. Unfortunately what we’re not receiving is the importance of hearing a pause, a break or even laughter. Taking a moment to give real face time to one another can be healing for both.
Reassure her that you are there for her,even when you don’t always knowexactly how she needs you. Let’s face it although we’re sisters, we don’t always fully get one another. Different life experiences, lessons along the way and input from othershave all had a profound impact on how we view this life. Attempting to believe we know exactly what another needs often causes further frustration and tension on both sides. Your reassurance through listening and honoring her path with loving intention will create the space for even more trust and loveto grow.
Schedule a Sister day! Take a day, days or even several hours to honor a special moment with her to share how much you care. No big production is necessary unless the two, three or four of you want it to be. A walk on your favorite trail, a movie day in pajamas or game night always helps to put what we perceive to be complex back to being simple and sweet.
Life is full of different shifts, transformation and life lessons that broaden the way we relate to those we hold dear. To have the types of relationships we desire requires time, love and effort. Knowing that we can create the loving relationships by giving the kind of loving carethat we ourselves want to receive. I’m grateful for the relationship that blossomed over the years between my sister and I. Our transformation and love for each other throughout the years created a desire to be of loving support to others that stretched beyond us. I've learned so much from her and I'm sure she learned a few things from me. It is our hope that you allow your love to expand for your sister or sisters too.
Love Talita Akana is a wife, mother, sister, and a friend. Over the years, she has shared guidance from the lessons she has learned. Grateful to be a vessel to assist others as a source of inspiration to touch another with what they learned to grow on their journey. This is Love.