When I was first born, I was like the cupie-doll prize you won at the fair. I was exactly what Heather had hoped and wished for--a little doll she could dress up and care for, love and cherish. Something that could be hers in this house full of boys.
Except I was more boy than girl, I didn't like to wear dresses, preferring instead the matchbook cars my brothers brought me to my sisters' barbie dolls.
And then we swung the other way when I adored and worshipped all things Heather (who was eight years older than me and a very cool teenager when I was old enough to realize that that was, well, very cool) and would go into her room without permission, would follow her around everywhere, eavesdrop on her phone conversations and just generally pester her to death.
When I was about twelve years old, and Heather twenty, I told her that I f-in hated her sometimes. And she went told our mother on me.
That was pretty much the end of that.
I couldn't trust her. She couldn't trust me. We agreed, without so much as saying so, that we hated each other.
Until my mom came down with dying and suddenly our world collapsed in on itself and we found ourselves folded up together with no escape.
Heather realized a little of the hell I'd been living in the last four years when she had judged me as purely a selfish brat of a teenager. When in fact, I was simply into survival.
When Mom's dying became a reality and not just a hypothetical, Heather and I found ourselves doing a daily intricate dance in which our roles soon became rote and we were able to fill them as well as any Ginger Rogers or Lucille Bremer.
Where I was weak, she was strong.
Where she was weak, I was strong.
And it turned out that not only was I the little sister my sister had always dreamed of, she was the big sister I had always wanted.
What grew out of that terrible time, was not only a sisterhood, but a friendship that has been forged in sorrow but strengthend by the simple passage of time.
Heather is my bulwark against the storm. She is my lighthouse in a turbulent sea. She loves me in spite of me. She loves me because I am me.
She is . . . my friend.