Just over a year ago, at a friend’s wedding, I had a little, odd, reunion of sorts. I met with 5 other women with whom, with the exception of the bride herself, I shared very little. Except one peculiar trait. Each one of us had in her possession and for a brief period of time, 5 transparent umbrellas, to be used in case of a meteorological (and therefore potentially disastrous) emergency at our weddings. They passed on from their very first owner, Vanessa, down to the last one, my friend at her wedding, in a span of a couple of years. And because the story was so odd, we made sure to get together for a photo so we would commemorate the passing of what were, and have been so far, a handy and practical good luck charm. I presume Vanessa still has them in safe-keeping, ready for the next bride to need them. And so the story goes on.
I’m not here to write about the magical properties of the umbrellas, though I am not one to reject such possibilities (I did grow up with Harry Potter after all). However, this little act made me reminisce of another bigger, if not more meaningful practice we ignore or lose sight of as the years roll on and we, as women, get sucked in worlds that are hard to step out from. The very act of being sisters. Not in blood, perhaps, but in bond. The act of cherishing, guiding, helping, sheltering, uplifting our friends, acquaintances, colleagues, relatives. Sisters, in all but word.
When we’re young, it is easier for us to form friendships we would promptly describe as sister-like. We have all the time in the world to share our dreams, our fears, to go on adventures, even if they take on the form of a little makeshift tent in our bedrooms. To share our poetry and our art without shame. Growing up happens suddenly, and before we can blink, we have less time to talk. Less time to dream together. We are less likely to share our vulnerabilities because in a sense, we feel a certain loss of trust, a gaping chasm that gets harder and harder to bridge. So we keep our sisters at arms’ length, we calculate consequences of sharing this thing and that. Sisterhood, in essence, is lost, and in its stead we become friends… when the time allows.
But maybe, it doesn’t have to be that way.
We all know our limitations. The time we’ve lost in dealing with matters that require our “grown-up” attention cannot be recovered. We all know that and for better or for worse, we’ve accepted it. But sisterhood was never about quantity to begin with. It’s about the focus you put in listening to a 10 minute conversation, the energy you spend that one afternoon in months to help out with a project she is so excited about. It’s the thoughtfulness that you express, when you send resources or contacts to help. It’s the safe knowledge that this woman has your back, whatever hard decision you decide to take. It’s the mindfulness you apply when you do meet. When you put away everything that distracts you from the bubble you’ve created.
It’s when you hear the worries of one bride-to-be and you leap to assist with whatever you can. Even if it’s in the form of 5 umbrellas.
We don’t have to do the impossible, bend over backwards, sacrifice the little time we have left for ourselves. We really don’t. All we have to do is listen, be aware, reach out, call for help. Together we do greater things than if we were to stand alone. When pried apart, slowly, with curious fingers, that is what sisterhood is all about. Women who have figured out that arm in arm, they’re less likely to be blown over. Arm in arm, the net is stronger, the gap in that chasm is closed, quicker.
Let’s not lose sight of this bond, for we are truly less without it.