I have an embarrassment of sisters.
Ok, hold on—I don’t meant that my sisters are embarrassing. Neither do I mean that I have so many sisters, it’s embarrassing.
To have an embarrassment of something means to have too much of a good thing, and that’s exactly what I’ve got. So many good women in my life that I can call my sisters.
With two of these women, I share the same mother. Both their birthdays are in August, and this year, by some miracle we were all in the same city to celebrate those birthdays together. I’m the oldest. Sister #1 is a few years younger than I am, while Sister #2 is the baby of the family. We two older girls were teenagers by the time she was born. Lately, though, it seems that the age gaps between us are closing in, and we are becoming what Sister #2, TV Trope Expert, calls a Power Trio—a crazy balance of harmony, conflict, laughter, loyalty, and love that doesn’t hesitate to turn tough when it needs to be. Being the oldest, I’m used to being the protective one, but I know I can face anything with my sisters backing me up.
As if my two sisters weren’t enough, later in life I was blessed with even more sisters—women of all ages, with different backgrounds, different professions, totally unrelated to me biologically, but with whom I share the same ideals, the same struggle to make a difference.
Every summer we drop everything to spend two weeks together, to rest and relax, to learn from each other and to restore each other so we can all go back to our respective cities with new energy and new insights for the year ahead.
It’s the tenth year that I’ve been doing this, and I can’t imagine life now without this summer break. Nor can I imagine life without any of my sisters—valiant women who continually teach me so much.
Sisterhood was also a recurring theme in the books I read this month. In her biography of Mary Delaney, Molly Peacock muses about literary sisters—“poet connecting to poet, sharing the mitochondria of imagination.” In A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini tells the story of one Afghan man’s two wives who develop an incredibly deep and strong sister-like bond. And during the two weeks I’ve been away, I started reading My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell. This strikingly honest spiritual memoir has opened up new horizons in my personal views of those holy women, who are held up to every Catholic child as paragons of virtue. For the first time I’m beginning to understand that they were women just like me. They struggled, doubted, failed. The only difference, perhaps, is that they trusted God and I don’t. At least, not enough. Not yet.
But in this, as in everything, I know I can count on every one of my sisters to help me.