Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Getting Ready

Last night, we spent 3-4 hours moving disassembled furniture and boxes in my sister's quickly emptying house. We got in bed at midnight. I had maybe 4 separate crying bouts, all within a few minutes of seeing my Little Angela and having her leap up into my arms for a very very very prolonged hug.
Here's the story from the beginning for those who don't know. My sister is moving across the world next week, to Dubai. My sister is my best friend. When we were little, we would dress in matching clothes and tell everyone we were twins and think they actually believed us (extremely gullible, as there were 2.5 years and a whole head's height difference between us.) My sister is the person I talk to, cry to, think to. We don't even need to keep talking half the time, we just finish each other's sentences. I've fed her babies, changed their diapers, gotten them to sleep, spent countless hours playing with them, carrying them, teaching them how to talk, dragging them away from the TV / computer / whatever they weren't supposed to be touching. When the diapers were extra stinky, I wore a swimming "nose-plug" and changed them anyway.
My family is beyond tight knit. We're Mediterranean. We're Arab. Get it? When we were little, my sisters and I would abandon our beds, leave two bedrooms empty in the house and gather for nightly sleepovers in one room. We were four girls, no boys, constant whispering through the night. My mom's footsteps would inch up the hallway and we'd fall silent, close our eyes and pretend we were asleep. If she opened the door, it was much more difficult to maintain the illusion. Sometimes one of us would cough. Even if we didn't, she knew anyway. We had lots of other friends, but it was never a question of who our best friends were. We were each other's best friends.
My sister wrote before I did, and I first started writing because I wanted to be like her, not realizing that we both got it from Baba, maybe because his poems were almost always in Arabic. In high school, I would fall asleep on her floor while she studied for a chemistry test, or math test, or history test, or French or German test, and when she was finished memorizing everything to the meticulous level of detail she insisted on, always around 2 in the morning, she would wake me up and we would spend another hour where I quizzed her. My 9th grade science teacher hated this, because I asked him too much too soon about electrons thanks to her grade 11 chemistry quizzes, and messed up his lesson plans. "Noha, I'll answer all your questions after class if you want. Now, where were we?"
In university, we joked that I should get an honourary psychology degree because I tested her on everything using the same method, reviewed and edited her papers, became familiar with "confirmation bias" and "fundamental attribution error", with Gestalt and Rogers and other less famous ones, not only the Freud's and the Jung's.
I think I scared my brother in law when they first got married, but now he is a great, great friend.
I cry a lot lately but I always have. It's not sadness as such, it's raw emotion. It's normal when you love someone as much as I do and know they will stop being as constant a presence in your life as before. We will have to work harder to be in touch, but we will, we will touch with all the miles between us. Souls touch when they know each other that well, they can't help it.


Jazz said...

You're right you know her too well to not be touching anymore. It will take some getting used to but you will find your way.

noha said...

Thanks for the support. I'm struggling with it, but once it happens, it'll just happen.

XUP said...

I so envy you your close family. It must be incredibly hard for you to see her move so far away, but as Jazz said, such a bond will survive any distance. Luckily we have all this great technology to help people stay in touch and stay close and I'm sure a trip to Dubai is in your not-too-distant future.

noha said...

XUP, thanks for the words of support. Yeah, I don't know what I'd do without being able to still talk often. Until a few months ago, we probably spoke for hours every day. Now, it's less, and it'll definitely dwindle down more, but still be plenty when you compare it to how people used to communicate who lived far apart.
My parents have told me that when they first came to Canada in the seventies, just to call Egypt, they would need to spend about two days at home waiting for the operator to call them back with a connection. I can't imagine how hard that must have been.

Frogdancer said...

I'm hoping that my 4 boys will always keep the closeness they have now. Like you and your sisters, they have other friends but their brothers are who they choose to hang out with more often than not. It's really lovely to see. (I tell them that the best thing I ever did for them was to give them each other!!!)

noha said...

Frogdancer, I really do believe that one of the biggest blessings in my life is my relationship with my sisters. It's very hard to explain. I'm close with many many other people, but with my sisters, no matter how busy or crazy, we never fall out of each other's lives for more than a couple of weeks, and that constance is so significant in our relationships. It's great that you did that with your sons. They may not realize how important it is now, but when they are older and out in the world, they will thank you for it.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I love the post. I was touched to find out that you started writing to be like me. How incredibly sweet (& wonderful for me to take credit for such a terrific writer.)
It came at a great time - really relaxed me & made me feel full.
Ur sis

noha said...

ok.I just read that, and I just cried...