Unless you are under the age of 5, it’s probably been a while since your sibling gave you a bath.
This is my moment to announce to the world that my sister has bathed me twice in the last 48 hours.
In pretty much any circumstance other than the one we are in, I would hope at least one of you would put me on a Britney Spears 5150 hold for disclosing this information, but when your body is its own hacked-up spooky Halloween costume and your arms don’t really work, you need all the help you can get.
At my age, it is extremely odd to have 1:1 attention on you 24/7. My husband cannot provide this to me, as he has to take care of our 3 kids. My mom is out of town helping my grandmother in her final days of life, in hospice. My sister is assigned to me.
When I was born, my sister was 8.5 years old. I was her live action babydoll. I can tell from looking at family photos and hearing stories that she doted on me.
I started to mature, she went off to college, and thus began our very long stretch of not having any clue how to relate to one another. It took really until I was in my late 20s for our equilibrium as functioning sisters to balance out.
With our significant age difference and contrasting personalities, we have gone through some pretty intense falling-outs. But in our case, there were some other things working against us, as well.
She had our parents alone for 8+ years. I can only imagine how hard it would be to suddenly have to share your parents after such a long time as an only child. We were also born in different generations. She is Gen X and I am whatever came after that (but before millennials). She was Like A Virgin and I was Erotica (if you don’t get that reference, google Madonna and reevaluate your entire life).
It’s so hokey to say that it takes something like cancer to strip down all the junk that exists in a long-term, complicated relationship, but it is true.
When I was diagnosed, my sister’s world stopped spinning. I could practically hear it screech to a halt. I knew at that moment, there was nothing she wouldn’t do for me.
After my mastectomy, she took off weeks of work to care for me. In the early days when I was trying to rebound from the heavy sedation of a 5 hour surgery, she would stay up and watch me sleep to make sure I was breathing.
She would make sure all my favorite foods were in the house, along with healthy alternatives that she would sneak in for my recovery. She took meticulous notes at every doctor appointment and would then type them up and collate them in a binder.
These are all things I knew she was capable of doing. What surprised me was the tenderness with which she approached my physical healing.
We grew up in a rather WASPy environment, so we were never huggy/kissy. But along comes cancer and all of a sudden I find myself naked in a bathtub with my sister carefully bathing me as I cry from both pain and sorrow.
I am actually really sad that this acute healing phase from surgeries and chemo is coming to a close. These days, where she and I hunker down at my mom’s house and binge-watch RuPaul’s Drag Race (we are Team Alyssa Edwards all the way) while eating Little Caesars, have been so precious to me.
When else in your adult life can you spend such long, uninterrupted time with your adult sibling? This may sound absolutely bonkers, but I would go through cancer treatment all over again to have this precious time with my sister.
Siblings are a gift. And my sister is the best present any gal could ever hope for. I feel sorry for the rest of you that she’s not your sister.
As the old saying goes, ‘blood runs thicker than the water that my sister uses to bathe me when I am covered in wounds and unable to use my arms.’
I love you Jennie. Thank you for everything-
PS- Nice bangs.