My next youngest sister and I weren’t the best of friends growing up. In some ways, we were a lot alike, and I think the hostility that emerged between us was there, in part, because of the ways we were always being compared to one another.
Once I left home for college, the tension in our relationship decreased, and by the time she decided to attend the same university, I was excited for her to come. While we didn’t spend a lot of time together the two years our stays there overlapped, it was the beginning of a change in our relationship. My senior year, when I entered a severe depressive episode that nearly forced me to withdraw from school, my sister would go to the grocery store (one of her least favorite things in the whole world) in order to get me ice cream. During Sacrament Meeting each Sunday she would put her head on my shoulder so that she could make a cute response to my inevitable “that can’t be comfortable; my shoulder is very bony.” Tension was starting to be replaced with tentative explorations of support and encouragement.
I went to graduate school, she got married, and we kept in occasional contact as our lives drifted further apart. Then my brother-in-law decided to go to business school, and one of the schools he chose to apply to was the school where I was (and still am) attending graduate school.
The thought of having my sister and brother-in-law in town was really appealing (my tendency to socially isolate myself makes my life a bit lonely), and so I called my sister and told her that I had a “Master Plan” for her life. My “Master Plan”: my brother-in-law would get into the school I was attending, he would decide to go to business school there (he had applied to a few other schools), and they would move to the city where I lived. After that, they would decide to have a baby, and then my parents (who live only 4 hours away) would come visit all the time (it would be the first grandchild), and we would have lots of fun.
After much tense waiting, my brother-in-law was accepted at the business school here, and since it was his best option, they decided to come. A few months after he was accepted, my sister called me up and asked, “You remember that ‘Master Plan’ you had for my life?” My response was immediate and joyful: “You’re pregnant!” She confirmed my guess.
It’s now two years later, my brother-in-law has graduated with his MBA, and he, my sister, and my nephew moved this past month to a new location halfway across the country where my brother-in-law has begun a new job. I am missing them desperately.
During the two years they were here, I was able to slowly rebuild a relationship with my sister. I got to know my brother-in-law, a fun guy with lots of energy and enthusiam, much better. And I got to spend lots of time with my adorable nephew and more time with my parents, who came down quite often to visit their first grandchild. Since I live alone, it was nice to have someplace where I could just go hang out, have people around, and feel at home.
I don’t know what the “Master Plan” is for their new life. I don’t know what the “Master Plan” for my life is either. But I’m glad that for a few years, God saw fit to allow His “Master Plan” for all of our lives to cross more intimately than the occasional phone call and yearly family gatherings at Christmas. It was a “Master Plan” that really cemented a new relationship between my sister and I, and that reaffirmed to me the important role my family plays in my life.
- 12 July 2006