Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Everyday Life: What I Found in the Hours Between

At seven, I learned to pop my hip to the side, making a perfect seat on which my only baby sister would contently sit as I carried her around wherever I could.

She was joy wrapped in skin, cheeks chubby with wide smiles, ringlets of hair framing her face.

I lost years with her as we grew and I became too cool for a younger sister who tagged along and would never stop singing.

I remember telling her if she could just be quiet, she could stay, but inevitably, almost every time, she would catch herself in song.

You can't silence a song bird, you know, and who in her right mind would ever want to, I ask myself now.

When I lost my cool, she found hers. A college student herself and me freshly married, we didn't quite see eye to eye until life came hailing down on top of our heads and we lost the man we called dad.

She drove us to the hospital one day before he died.

And she sang almost the whole way there.

I'll never forget the way I felt when I heard song slip from her lips on a drive into the darkest day ... like heaven spilled a little bit of peace out of its gates and I got to bask in it for a few minutes.

God is the God of second chances even when it seems like death is winning. The day our father died, I cried in my sister's arms.

The older melting into the younger, like she used to melt into my arms as a baby, while realizing the gift of grace God meant a sister to be.

As if that gift weren't enough, she moved into the spare bedroom of our house just a few months later, and I silently thanked God for making more time to live beneath the same roof after the time I had naively squandered.

We laughed a lot. We threw dance parties with the boys on cold, rainy days. We shared coffee in the early mornings.

It wasn't long until someone else discovered the gift I had found in her, and swept her off her feet and into marriage and then motherhood.

Photo by Julie Valkanet Photography
But blessings were like a fountain, the newly weds and then family of three living just down the street from my own little family.

In laws like brothers, cousins like siblings, aunts and uncles like another set of parents ... and sisters like, well, sisters. But in the way God meant it instead of the way I once saw it.

I waved goodbye this morning, after they packed the final boxes at their home right down the street, kissed the soft cheeks of my niece, more joy wrapped in skin, just like her mother.

Instead of a few measly miles in between our houses, there will now be hours upon blasted hours.

As I hugged her, I cried and she wrapped me up in her arms. 

I remember the years I wish I could reclaim, the ones I took my sister for granted; I think of the ones that have been redeemed.

I think of the miles that are going to be the space between us

the hours that will separate us

and I know, like I couldn't have once known but understand now years and life later,

all of that space can't hold

the song she keeps singing

and those hours 

can't steal the gift of a grace that is sisterhood

and that what I've found

in the hours

in the space

in between

her own heart

and mine

are strings tied together

that go to the whole distance

mile by long mile

and hour by long hour. 


  1. Oh dear! Now I'm going to cry!! :)

    I can relate so very well. My sweet sister is in Australia and the miles are far and wide. I, too, squandered some time away, but we still love each other and have only grown closer over the years and across the waves.

    What a blessing to have a sister!

  2. Two things: 1) I wish my girls would have the kind of relationship you have with your sister. 2) Today, I had to say goodbye to a neighbor and friend who also has two kids (boys). It's not the same as a sister, but she's a big reason why living here feels like a community when we help each other out so much and our kids play with each other so well and so often. It certainly made this big city a little smaller...but they're moving to Wisconsin and we won't be hearing our girls and their boys screeching and laughing in the courtyard again. It's a sad day for all of us here!

  3. What a sweet post! And sad too...I'm sorry you'll be so far apart from each other. I *completely* understand how that is -- I think we've talked before about the similarities in our relationships with our sisters and how it took adulthood to bring us closer. But that really is lovely that you have had this time together and were able to come back to cherish each other. Just think how many siblings grow apart and never have that. It is a gift. I'm sure the emotional closeness you share now will transcend the miles between you.

  4. Oh my. I am literally crying big fat tears here. I know the love of sisters and my heart would break into a million pieces if the miles between us were so far. This is absolutely beautiful, Hy. God gave you such a precious gift in a sister to hold you while you cry hot and heavy tears and though the miles are vast between you those ties will keep you close. ((hugs))


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