My sister and I shared a bedroom as we were growing up. There was a crack in the ceiling that divided and defined our sides of the room. We were not to breach the other’s side—to do so was an act of war.
As we grew older and moved to our own homes in the same state, there were times when we got our feelings hurt, disagreed, or blundered into boundaries, which caused a tiff. Sometimes a tiff ended in a prolonged period of not speaking that was not only lonely but boring as well. After a period of days, weeks, or in some cases, months, one of us usually broke the ice and we moved on. Now, I cannot remember what even one of those tiffs were about. I doubt if my sister remembers either.
Time went by, and there were husbands, children, pets, homes, elderly parents, and job concerns to attend to. Duties called and distractions abounded. Most of the time, we helped each other through life with encouragement and a sympathetic ear. Many holidays were spent together with our families.
Now, we are in our final third of life’s journey. We are not yet ancient, but we are both well aware of the curtain call.
Recently, during Christmas, a situation arose that caused a tiff. Within a day or two, I swallowed my pride and wrote her a note simply telling her how much I appreciated her Christmas gift. She called me on the phone and we settled our misunderstanding. We both knew without saying that there is no more time for tiffs. If something goes awry, it needs to be settled quickly. We do not have the proud luxury of making emphatic points by communication breakdowns.
Relationships with siblings are a choice as we grow into adulthood and beyond. My sister and I do not have to be close but we have chosen to be. With that, comes unspoken commitment to be honest about things that matter and not bring up the things that don’t.
Years ago, we probably didn’t see our own faults as clearly as we do now. The same personality traits that came between us as youngsters still do. The difference is that now, we see the good, too, almost at the same time. There is the “Yes, this is annoying, but do you remember when she…” kind of realizations that remind us to be thankful for each other and for our history together which is precious to both of us.