Losing my sister


After 73 years together, I find it difficult to write half-sister. I believe it is the first time. We are born one year and four days apart, sharing a bedroom until I am 16, she 15, when we move to our new house. Not really a home, feeling alone, more than I consciously knew back then.

It was at our home, my mother yells, “He’s not your father!” a shock that reverberates to this day as most traumatic. It wasn’t until I become a Marriage and Family Therapist that I am able to retrieve the memory of what I did after hearing those heart-shattering words.

I had run down the stairs, outdoors, sat on the swing dad had made for his three children, alone. I must have cried, I still do.

Mainly, because my trust was broken, the TRUTH being hidden…and WHY I become loudly passionate like a trumpeting elephant about telling the TRUTH – insisting it be top priority, to know you, to know me. To love you, to love me.

As a ten-year-old I began questioning the truth of the bible I was raised to believe is the word of god, literally. How can a loving god send you to the lake of fire -hell- if you don’t accept Jesus as your savior? I fought with my spirit to own, trust myself.

I fought with my sister, Constance, by chasing her around our bedroom, hands held high as if a vulture aiming to grab her.

At our 2018 Thanksgiving family get-together at my brother’s house in Washington DC, the morning after a fun delicious sharing of food and memories, Constance yells something like: “You scared me; chasing me with your claws in the air, me crying. You never said you’re sorry. I didn’t deserve that!”

I stand in the kitchen dumbfounded, listening to her rageful pain, quiet. Understanding how I had acted out my ten-year-old helplessness and fear. (We had talked about our pain more than once as adults and I had apologized.)

As adults we had become closer despite me leaving our family’s religious beliefs behind in 1984, which she still clings to. After she moves to Florida from Vestal, NY in 2010, leaving me in Ithaca, NY, where we were raised, I happily fly to Tampa, Florida each March, being the only family member to accompany her visit to her son in prison. (Constance has five children).

Because I am more open to share our lives with family and friends, Constance has chosen to disinvite our spring visits since 2018. Our friendly weekly texts have dwindled to monthly, me continuing to be the initiator, reflecting our historical dynamic.

Sadly, she chooses the fear of her religion as her security; I choose the loving spirit of my ten-year-old, happily.