Leaving her brother

The stack of stuff growing in the front room is a signal that the girl is about to leave for college. She does not appreciate how much life is about to change. She recently told a girl she has been babysitting for a few years that the relationship between brother and sister will always be the same. She believes that because she has not left home yet. She is wrong.

My sister and I had a very similar relationship to the one the boy and the girl have. The mere act of standing a foot outside of her door in the hallway could send my sister into a fit of screaming, which, if you were unfamiliar with the situation, might make you think I was standing outside her door ready to release a crate of cobras.

The summer after my sister graduated, I flew to Minnesota to spend a few weeks with my grandmother. My sister flew to South Africa as a foreign exchange student before I returned. I still remember my mom crying at the gate when I left (people were still allowed to accompany you to the gate at the airport back then), because things would never be the same again. I did not understand at the time, but she was right. Things got better.

My sister and I shared a car and two years together in college. Our relationship changed in college. We were actually friends. Boys weren't allowed in the girls’ dorm, so I could not stand in the hallway outside her room, but even if I could have, I don't think she would have screamed, “Get away!”

That doesn't mean she stopped being my big sister. At least one of my dating choices prompted her to ask, “What are you thinking?” A couple of pranks I played created the occasion for an emergency invitation to meet for lunch. When we sat down, I recognized the serious look. It was that big sister look, the one that says “Listen to me. I know and you don’t. I can't believe you don't, but you don't.”

“You can't do that kind of thing,” she admonished. She was right about both. Of course, I did not admit that at the time.

I just said, “You worry too much.”

The girl is wrong. Her relationship with her brother is about to change. She will still be a big sister, and of course will always be right, but being right will be different.

“Get away! Leave me alone! Mom, Dad, tell him to stop!” are shouts that will soon disappear from our house. I don’t wish I could say I will miss them. I will miss her, and the reminder of my earlier relationship with my sister. We loved each other even when we couldn't stand each other. I know the boy and girl have the same relationship because, in those moments when they don’t think we are looking, they are kind to one another.

RJ Johnson

I have been a priest for 16 years.  I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010.  If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.

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Volume 8, Issue 16, Posted 9:39 AM, 08.16.2016