I remember the birth of my little sister, Ramona, so clearly. I suppose it’s particularly strong because my dad was looking after me. He spent most of my childhood working overseas, but for my sister’s birth he was home. I was obviously upset at my mother’s absence, and he went out of his way to make me laugh. His main method of eliciting a smile from me was to eat a raw lemon and pull funny faces.
I haven’t lived near my sisters for about 26 years or so. What I do have, and am so grateful for, is that my life has been blessed with soul sisters. Sisters who are not connected to me by blood, but by choice. By love. These are the women who check up on me each day/week. It might be a note in the post, a text message, a PM on Facebook, a card, a walk in the woods, lunch in a café, a phone call, chocolate or love hearts in the mail. These are the friends who I hold close in my heart. The ones who I know are there, through thick and thin. They care about me, and the feeling is reciprocated. In amongst the daily rhythm of life, they are there: like sunshine. When writing my novel, Sisters of the Silver Moon, I wanted to explore the different faces of sisterhood.
What does it look like when there is an undeniable and deeply loving bond and you’re inseparable? What is sisterhood when you’re living in ways that are diametrically opposed? What is it like to be estranged from your sister? As a mother, we might hope that our daughters will be bonded through time, but life is never that simple! Our daughters are individuals with their own paths to follow which may or may not include a close relationship with each other.
I love my sisters with all my heart, but (and I’m sure they feel the same) we don’t have the sort of connection that we might do with a best friend. And it is something I would deeply love.
I have fantasies of great family get-togethers where we bare our souls and would do anything for each other. Where we laugh, cry, confide, trust and support the other. It’s fairly safe to say this isn’t something that’s ever going to happen in my lifetime. And perhaps it is because of this that I cherish my friendships so much. They fill a void. Needless to say, one of my favourite-ever TV shows is Brothers and Sisters. As one of eight children, family is important to me. My siblings shaped who I am. We shared adventures on our 700-acre property in rural Australia. We have history. Perhaps it is wrong to want my past to be part of my future. Maybe life isn’t about staying in touch with our family of origin, but moving on. I was overjoyed to discover my elder sister, Heidi, recently moved back to the UK. Now, we might only see each other once a year, but knowing she’s ‘nearby’ (if you can count a four-hour drive as nearby!) does make me feel happy.
After our vow renewal ceremony in April, my daughter Eliza said to me in the weeks that followed: “You have such lovely friends. You really have the nicest friends!” For Paul and I it was one of the highlights of our lives ~ to be surrounded by people we cherish. Many of my friends live quite some distance away, and I don’t have the luxury of them on my doorstep. For all the toxicity associated with modern technology, I’m really grateful for its existence, and that in seconds I can connect with those I love no matter where they live in the world. Of course, nothing quite beats a cup of tea with a friend and being able to turn up at each other’s doors…but connection is connection is connection, and I, for one, will commune with my soul sisters in whatever form is necessary for us to be with each other.