I hadn't seen my little sister in almost exactly two years, separated by oceans and continents, entire lives that match up in the middle, but no where else.
As the months wore on, I alternated between feeling sorry for myself and feeling nothing but numb. It's always been hard for me to stay closely connected to something so far out of reach.
Life grabs my attention and holds it.
I struggle to make the right kind of space for this relationship. It feels impossible at times.
And all the while, I miss her, my only sister.
She's so much like me, and we couldn't be more different.
Ours isn't a sisterhood decorated with secret languages or telepathy - mental or otherwise.
We've fought and competed, we've saved our harshest words for each other.
She was off wrecking her banana bike and busting out her teeth when I was falling in love for the first time. She was hurling a softball while I was reading a book.
She was 14 when I left home, and it felt like the deck had always been stacked against us.
So, it took a while to really know each other. But we'd made a quiet pact to never stop trying.
We drove up the coast of California together one summer, just before Calvin came home. Jeremy Camp sang us through Santa Barbara and you'll never convince us it wasn't Ava Phillipe we saw turning cartwheels on an open lawn. We stopped at fruit stands, stretched out on sandy beaches with magazines and cherries. We carried our shared history in colorful purses and handed each other chunks of what we had missed, stowing them for safe keeping, finally understanding that despite all we'd never understand, we were as known by each other as two girls could be.
My sister has taught me some things along the way - some of the most important lessons I never knew I needed.
And when I've felt misunderstood by the Universe, she's the one whose words whisper across my inbox - I get you. Our hearts beat the same on this.
Silas and Ruby stood at my sides, so excited they could hardly speak.
In that moment, the past two years evaporated. There we were again, and it was going to be alright.
We've already argued and apologized and scratched our heads.
We've already forgiven.
We've already remembered for the millionth time - families weren't made to be perfect or tidy. Families were made for freedom.
Our future is secure because, come what may, we'll always be right here, holding the magical powers to scatter every lapse of time and every flesh-and-blood failure like the fine white sands of the California coastline.