A big part of me and my now, life-story is that I no longer have any form of a worldly or a physical connection to my late sister. What I have, is a web of scattered memories that span 30 something years.
Since her departure, and due to no deliberate effort until thinking and writing this post, I have somewhat managed to reconstruct parts of my relationship with Rima through my two brothers and their wives, partner, and close friends.
Whenever a discussion around adoption happens, the question of whether to adopt one or two kids gets asked, then a reference to how essential it is to adopt a brother or a sister to the kid you might think of adopting. I usually argue against this type of thinking, the main point being that cousins can serve such a need. My answer, unsurprisingly, doesn’t always satisfy the person I’m conversing with.
What is it about having blood-siblings that translates into being an essential human experience? Is it a direct consequence of being driven to create nuclear families as means of survival within our urban scattered living?
Siblings, for me, are those humans that know the early days of my evolution into the adult I am today, specifically the childhood and teenage years. As the eldest, my siblings were also my early experiments, my early staff, mentees, and students! They are people I can go crazy around, get angry, get emotional without worrying about what they must think of me or any consequences. In a nutshell, they know the crazy, and of everyone else, I can confidently feel I can count on them staying around.
That’s so precious, and for the life of me, I can’t understand how some could be estranged from their own sister or brother. In the same way, I don’t understand how a 40+ adult can be estranged from one of their parents. Still, I understand sometimes there are some lines when crossed; there is no way back even with family. Still, I admit, it breaks my heart when I hear of it.
For someone who spent a lot of their young age around cousins, I think they are truly second to siblings. For others, though not my own experience, childhood friends that one maintains being close to well into adulthood are an equal treasure. They also know the early days and consequently know that crazy and, for many, still, stick around.
But what about everyone else? Do we try to create that level of being truly ourselves with those friends we met later in life? Can we truly treat a friend like a blood-sibling or a cousin?
I know it’s customary for us to describe close friendships as brotherly or sisterly, yet I ask myself, do we truly feel that? On the same level, we feel with siblings? This freedom to be who we are at any moment without fear of consequence? Do we allow ourselves to let the crazy out amongst those we say are our close friends? Most importantly, do we allow ourselves to appear truly vulnerable around them?
Moving on to life-partners. Beyond the essential physical intimacy we share with our partners, does the everyday absorb a good portion of that crazy?
I am sure it does. Maybe the question here is, do we feel safe doing that all the time, or do we fear practically looking less sexy and desirable as time goes by? On the other hand, has our expanded urban living forced us to keep friends and cousins at bay, only for fun outings? Focusing all of our energy and subsequent needs in terms of support and companionship solely on our life-partners, adding even more weight to an already complex relationship?
Those questions, with time, can force you into some kind of leap. One that expands the boundaries upon which we build our support system.
Maybe in my case, I was forced into it because of my loss and the mess I was left with when half of my family fell terminally ill. Yet as the years have passed, I have unintentionally built a foundation that provided support and less aloneness.
As it happens, a few of my friends and I are rethinking the common understanding of individuality, independence, and familial ties into a more communal existence where friends, close cousins join siblings to form several webs of support and shared resources into closer bonds.
Though still in its early stages, we are treading our way into getting closer without fringing on each other’s individuality and independence. Another dance I am excited for us to experience more of in the few months, years to come.
Making the effort of growing closer bonds another angle of my quest to live more deliberately.