Written by Michelle
I remember the day my parents brought my baby sister home. It’s probably one of my first childhood memories. I was sitting on a cream-colored round ottoman on the balcony of our apartment in Hato Rey. It was a typical night in Puerto Rico. The breeze was humid, and the night was filled with singing frogs, but the temperature was a little bit warmer than usual. I don’t remember the dialogue; it could have been the heat. But I remember my parents placing her on my lap. I remember being excited before the fear set in.
What role was this cute little bundle going to play in my life? Was she staying here to live? Did we have to keep her? She was cute, but …was it time to take her back yet? Surely someone was missing her at that place where she came from–you know, the hospital. What do you mean they have a “no return” policy? Hmmmm, I guess we can keep her. So we named her Verónica.
Growing up with a little sister, I thank my mother for giving me my own personal scapegoat.
“Michelle, did you stick the maxi pads all over the hallway walls?”
….No Mami, Verónica did it!
“Michelle, did you put make up all over my face while I was sleeping?”
….No Mami, Veronica did it!
“Michelle, did you cut Verónica’s hair?”
….No Mami, Verónica did it! (No, really. She did!)
Yes, it was fifteen hard years (mostly for Veronica and my mother).
I was the type of sister who loved pulling-hair wars (who can pull the hardest for the longest).
And of course, playing the “change again game “(making her change her clothes because they look too much like mine).
I should have stated first that I love her, but I’m pretty sure that I only verbalized it when I was fifteen years old. Our relationship was not perfect, which is probably true for most sisters or siblings. It was moving in 1993 that was a pivotal point in our lives. We joined our parents (and dog) and left our family and friends in San Juan, Puerto Rico. That summer changed our relationship. Talk about culture shock! Want a good research study? Give two teenage Puerto Rican girls a one-way ticket to South Central Pennsylvania.
It was at that point that Verónica and I realized we really only had EACH OTHER. We held each other’s hand as we transitioned into a new country, language and culture. Verónica understood what it was like trading warm beaches for cold football games and rice and beans for pierogies (FYI- I love pierogies now). We wiped each other’s tears when we missed those who we loved and grew up with. Who else would understand how we found such comfort in simple exchanges like a hug and a kiss? It was a radical transition, but at that moment, we both were born again as sisters, as one.
I thank my parents for putting up with me during that time of my life and wanting a better future for us. Most importantly for giving me a sister, a fellow woman who cares and understands. A remarkable human being who loves me, and I can be candid with. Someone I can share my life-changing events and my not so stellar moments. I look forward to life-changing moments with her the same way I love growing “young” with her.
Not everyone has a sister (or brother) in the traditional sense, but I hope everyone finds one in their lives. We know when we’ve met them when we can’t imagine life before them. To my sister, my love, my most amazing girl: I hope that you know everyday how much my love grows for you. How proud I am of you, and how I really could never live without you, my friend.
Last week, on my birthday nonetheless, my sister gave birth to TWO beautiful baby GIRLS…
TWO sisters who shared a womb (instead of a new house), who came into this world (instead of a new country), and who will and are transitioning into a new life together. I know that it won’t take them fifteen years to realize the impact of a sibling, a sister, a best friend for life. It won’t take long for them to discover the power of love squared.