I’m recently back from five days in LA. My older sister Lori and I hadn’t spent that much time alone together in adulthood. Ever. And we had a FANTASTIC time. I LOVED getting to know my older sister, who moved out of the house when I was ten, moved to Texas when I was fifteen, and from there to Okinawa, Las Vegas, then Denver.
In the meantime, she had five children, most of whom were born and raised in those far ports of call. The exception is the eldest, Michael, who was born in LA*.
We had time to revisit memories of growing up together, to patch some gaps in memory or knowledge, for updates on her kids and grandbabies, and for more in-depth stories of our lives, things that happened while we were far apart.
We went to the pier and the purple store, we got pedicures and ran errands for mom. We randomly ran into a man with whom Lori went to elementary and junior high school.
Mostly, though, we talked.
We talked for hours, and had time to say so much more than we can in a letter or a phone call. Five days, the two of us and mum, no other sisters, children, grandbabies, nieces or nephews, husbands or partners, in-laws, births, deaths, weddings, graduations, or holidays to distract us or lend their topical concentration.
Among other things, I learned about her Lupus and related auto-immune diseases. How it can be painful to be in the sun; how your health can change on a dime, without warning and when things have been going well for weeks and you’re doing everything by the book; how one auto-immune disease usually means another down the road; that there are related and overlapping health concerns like liver disease, diabetes, heart problems, skin conditions, and connective tissue dysfunction. That living with Lupus is akin to living in hostile territory: the shit can begin to fly, from any direction, at any moment. That living with auto-immunes like Lupus means a constant battle against frustration—and depression.
Although it is hard to hear that my sister is suffering like this, I am grateful for what I’ve learned from her. I’m not very good at relationships—better than I used to be, but still kind of crap.
Knowing these things about Lori, and by extension, Wendy, makes me feel closer to them, protective of them. Like I want to do battle, although there’s nothing I can battle against.
I haven’t been there for my family. First I was too little, then the older ones were gone, and then I was drinking, and then I was in early recovery—where I was absolutely insane. I’m mid-recovery now, sane as a doorpost, and I’ve been working to better my relationships with my family for years.
I’m not great at it.
But I’m getting better.
Thank you, Lori, for welcoming me so warmly and enthusiastically and lovingly. Thank you, mom, for coming up with one of your most brilliant ideas, for getting Lori, and you, and me in the same house, alone together. You are so smart. (And you have great feet.)
*I babysat Mike when I was a teen, then he and Lori stayed with us at my parents’ house for a short time, which gave me memories with baby Mike that are very close to my heart.