Losing My Sister: A MemoirThe relationship between sisters is typically the longest in a woman’s life. It can also be the most complex. Losing My Sister tells the story of two sisters who were raised to be close. Adoring your sister was as common a trait in our family as red hair might be in somebody else’s. BrendaandJudy. We were one long word. Throughout our paradisiacal, dreamlike childhood, Brenda (three years older) and I were told by our mother how close she was to her sisters, how close her mother was to her sister.

When Brenda and I were in our thirties, our parents were diagnosed with grave illnesses. Older sister Brenda had always been “the strong one.” Little sister Judy was known as “the sweet one.” I suddenly stopped following Brenda, stopped being “sweet.” Brenda, grappling with problems at home in addition to losing parents, suddenly didn’t appear strong. She even seemed vulnerable. We’d stepped out of our familiar roles; nothing was the same. Throughout the two years our parents were dying, Brenda and I barely spoke. We lost our parents and nearly lost each other. Before we reached the outer edge, we found our way back. Once again we were having long, chirpy phone conversations, sharing recipes, bringing our families together for Sunday night pizza.

But then an impending and even closer death echoed our parents’ deaths. This time, it was Brenda. Again, the two of us were pitched into unfamiliar territory. Again the two of us — and our relationship — became totally unrecognizable. Just before we reached the end, we re-discovered the purely ordinary splendor of the love we had for each other. During our last four months together, our relationship was allowed to shine like the marvelous thing it was.