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August 22, 2006

I have a sister. Her name is Julie. I actually have 2 sisters, but this is about Julie.

She was born in Weisbaden, Germany and spent the first years of her life being carted hither and yon through Europe. Preaching the gospel of the United Pentecostal Church.

I can’t presume to imagine what it was like to go from the busy pastoral and metropolitan life of 1973 Heidelberg to Pompeys Pillar, Montana.

For any of them actually. By the time they moved in with Grandma and Grandpa on the farm, there were 5 of them and Mom & Dad in a 3 bedroom house. Thank goodness for 25 acres!!!

Still.

Julie was the quintessential middle child. Biddable, sweet, compliant. She wasn’t an exceptional student, wouldn’t have tried out for American Idol if they’d shown up in town, didn’t wear the coolest clothes ever…

She had that Something. She never lacked for attention. Always surrounded by friends. Several young men professing undying love and affection for her. She was irresistable. Apparently. Of course, I was the little sister who was “troubled” and was constantly frustrated by my own inability to be any of the above. I have never been biddable or compliant.

I think one of Julie’s secrets is that she has always understood the depth required to be a good friend. She has never been half-hearted about her affection toward family or friend. She is not reserved, naturally. It is extremely difficult for her to maintain any kind of distance emotionally.

A blessing and a curse, I think.

I have seen Julie go from the sparkling teenager to young wife to barren woman. I’ve seen the joy of the adoptive parent and struggle of the mother of teenagers. I see her with an 18 year old daughter she can’t relate to or understand. She was quite the Pollyanna, but I have seen her sparkle dim through the years.

I pick up the phone and we chit chat about life but there’s no real connection. My life is a mystery to her and her’s an enigma to me. We are sisters, we are friends. I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I were in need, her assistance would come without hesitation. And the same is true for me.

Yet, in spite of all this, she calls me one of her “best friends”. This makes me sad for her. How is it possible? I live over 5 hours away. We speak on the phone 10-15 times a year. She hasn’t been to my home in over 4 years. I’ve been once to the house she lives in now.

How does a woman go from the life of the party to the matron on the outskirts? I look at myself and my own life and I can feel the pull of Grown Up on the fringes. The white knuckle reaction to a life that doesn’t seem able to be controlled.

I love my sister. I just don’t understand where she went and I don’t want to go there myself.