Brothers and Sisters – One Step at a Time

What is a “normal” sibling relationship?  How about with step-siblings?  Can such a thing even be defined?

A friend was telling me recently how her daughter longed for a relationship with her 3 step-sisters, but they have shut her out.  I wonder if the 3 feel like they don’t need another sister.  Perhaps they don’t understand how an only child can long for siblings.

It reminds me of the way I felt when I finally got mine.


As an only child I longed for a brother or sister.  It’s what I wished for on my birthday candles.  I was so lonely.

Then when my dad remarried I suddenly had 3 older step-siblings.  I was thrilled.  Problem was, they were older.  Two of them had already left home.  I bonded with and dearly love the youngest of the three.  Now after 30ish years, he really is just like a brother to me.


I’ve never been close with the oldest brother.  Too much of an age gap I guess, plus vastly different lifestyles.

The sister, though, that’s the relationship I wanted to pursue.  My step-sister was about 7 years older than me.  I always thought she was so cool.  Her jobs were cool.  Her style was cool.  I wanted so badly to be a part of her life, but I just didn’t know how.  As adults we lived in different cities.  Occasionally we’d meet at our parents’ home over the holidays, but years would pass in between.  I kept thinking eventually something would surely bring us together.  Then she got cancer.


The last few months of her life I wanted so badly to drive to her house to help out.  Fear kept me away.  What would she think if I showed up on her doorstep now?  What would I say or do?

When she went in to hospice I knew I was about to miss my chance to do anything at all.  I got in the car and started driving to Houston.  Halfway there, my dad called and asked if I could spend the night at the hospital with her.  The whole family was exhausted.  Her husband had been by her side night and day, but needed to get some sleep.  Absolutely!  Finally, something I could DO.  I had no idea that I was about to receive the gift I’d wished for on those birthday candles so long ago.

My sister and I had a sleepover.  I helped her take sips of water and rubbed lotion on her dry hands.  We talked.  We prayed.  I read the Bible to her and she told me that Jesus was holding her hand, and that she was ready to go with him.  I apologized for letting fear prevent me from being the sister I could have been.  We had an amazing night.  A few days later she was gone.

I’m so thankful to have been the person of faith she needed right then.  I know that Jesus was indeed holding her hand, and I know that she and I will embrace as sisters in heaven.

On my mom’s side of the family I have 2 more sisters.  Time and distance prevent us from seeing each other as much as I’d like, but fear does not.  Fear will never again prevent me from telling any of my siblings how I feel.  To me none of us are “steps”.  We are gifts to one another.  Priceless, priceless gifts.


(archived from Sept. 28, 2013)


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