Without hesitation, the first thing that comes to mind with the letter E is Evie.
I don’t remember a time when there wasn’t an Evie. Almost two years older than me, she has been my hero, companion, protector, teacher, confidant and my very best friend. Everyone should have an Evie in their life. I honestly can’t imagine a world without her.
When we were little our Mom would dress us alike. Evie and I weren’t fans of that, but it sure did make for some adorable pictures. We were like two peas in a pod!
But our relationship wasn’t always smooth. As children, we had some real knock- down-drag-out fights. I remember Evie would grow her fingernails in the shape of v’s- perfect for scratching me during our heated arguments. I was scrappy and didn’t cower to her intimidating ways (most of the time), fighting mightily and forcing our parents to step in and separate us on several occasions. I can’t remember what we fought about— who got to play Gilligan in our“Gilligan’s Island” skits or who had to empty the dishwasher. Silly stuff.
And even though we were dressed alike, our differences were obvious from the start. Evie has always been fiercely independent. Me, I was happy following her around, doing whatever she was doing. We shared a bedroom, but Evie wanted her own space. So we built a cardboard wall that went right down the middle of our room, separating it in half. Walking into our room, you’d see two very distinct living spaces; one half with everything neat, tidy and in its place, and the other half looking like a tornado had just blown through. (I’ll let you guess which half was mine…)
Our relationship really started shifting when I was about ten years old and Evie went away to summer camp. I’m not sure if we were both maturing or if the time away allowed us to realize how much we missed each other, but from that point forward, the fist fights were over. Don’t get me wrong, we’d still get on each other’s nerves, but arguments no longer escalated into physical fights.
Looking back, I love how we did so many sweet things together. We’d tell stories at bedtime to help each other fall asleep. And Evie always had music playing…Chicago, Billy Joel, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Police… she introduced me to the sounds of my childhood. We went on sleepovers to our grandparent’s house together and I’d lean on her because even though it was only for one night, I missed my parents. Evie made me feel safe.
I remember when we decided we really wanted a television for our room. Dad and Mom only agreed if we earned it ourselves. So we worked tirelessly selling greeting cards all over our neighborhood, finally earning enough to buy a small television. It was yellow. It got three channels. But we didn’t care. It was ours.
My husband has a theory that the second child sees what the first is doing and chooses (either consciously or unconsciously) to do the opposite.This seems to be true for my sister and I. As kids, where Evie was rebellious and adventurous, I wanted to please and was perfectly content at home. As adults, she continues to be the risk-taker, going on all sorts of adventures, while I’m still happy at home, watching my British historical dramas.
But having Evie as a sister helped me step outside of my comfort zone. Like when we were kids and I was scared of midnight and she kept me awake long enough to show me that nothing bad happens when the clock strikes twelve. Or when I refused to sneak out of our room in the middle of the night to see what presents Santa left because I was scared that he may still be in our house and I didn’t want to get caught.
As we got older, Evie helped me explore my own rebellious side, tiny as it was. She offered me my first joint and led the way as we skipped school for the first time. (Well, it was the first time for me.) I was always such a ‘good’ girl, but somehow doing these things with my sister was ok because I knew nothing bad would happen with her by my side.
She taught me everything I needed to know about sex, (thank goodness!) and saved me during some scary times, always caring and listening without judgment. Like the time I lost my virginity and I couldn’t tell our Mom. Or the time I was date raped. Or the time my diaphragm got stuck and I couldn’t get it out. I mean, what would I have done without her?!
I remember helping her out sometimes, too. Like when we were kids and she’d have an asthma attack in the middle of the night and I’d go and wake up Dad and Mom. Or the time when we were still young and a very attractive British tennis player came into our bedroom and gave her a ‘proper’ kiss - right in front of me- and I didn’t tattle.
Even though we live on separate coasts now, our bond keeps us strongly connected. We sometimes sense what the other is going through even before we’ve spoken. Evie has supported me through broken hearts, miscarriages, and cancer. She has also been my loudest cheerleader, attending all of my stage performances, accepting my husband (before my parents did) and, finally, witnessing me fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a mom.
And oh my golly, she is strong. I’ve watched her deal with so many incredible challenges with courage and grit. I expect nothing different…because that’s who she is- Brave. Strong. Beautiful. And to say I love her feels inadequate. It’s a deeper feeling, one that just doesn’t have words.
I think about my soul as it was choosing to come into this lifetime. I picture it seeing the opportunities that I was going to be offered and thinking, “Ok, some of this is gonna be tough. Let’s make sure we are surrounded and supported through these experiences. I’m gonna want a fierce guardian. One that will understand me to my core, challenge me to experience things beyond what’s comfortable, and allow me to feel safe, protected, and deeply, deeply loved. Let’s make sure I have an older sister.” That’s how I got my Evie.
What a gift.