Sisters, Then and Now

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She grasps my fingers tightly. The cement porch step almost reaches her knees as she carefully lands on the sidewalk. At just two years old, she is still unsteady on her feet.

She looks up at me, her eyes smiling. “Come sit down over here with me, Kay!” I say. And she does. Of course she does, we are consistently glued. That’s how it works with firstborns.

It was finally summer. And along with warm sun, rich soil, and green leaves, my second baby had recently arrived. Our family had not yet found our groove.

We were sleepless. Unnerved. Redefined.

After two solid years of practice, Kayli and I had a finely tuned way about us. This new baby upset our rhythm. And we weren’t sure how to resynchronize.

As the sun glistened through the windows and danced on the floors, I forced myself out of new baby fogginess and grasped at sameness. I attempted to circle the morning around Kayli.

“Come sit down over here with me, Kay!” My constant chatter, meant to build her vocabulary and keep me company, was suddenly exhausting.

I sat down carefully. The sidewalk warm beneath me and “that baby,” as Kayli called Chloe, warm against me. I settled in sandwiched between my two girls.

I smooth on Kayli’s sunscreen, “to protect your skin.” Snap her clear jellies in place, “to protect your feet.” And position her blue sunglasses that perfectly match her swimsuit onto her tiny nose, “to protect your eyes.”

We ballerina-step onto the grass. Tentative. Slow. Careful. Well practiced. choreography to maneuver this world side by side.

I turn the valve slowly. She jumps at the whoosh from within. The water dribbles and she jumps yet again, moves a titch closer to me, one hand holding mine, the other wrapped around my leg.

“Do you want to touch the water?” I ask, kneeling down.

Her eyes remember the whoosh and consider the jump. But she’s won over by the mere thought of water.

Cool splashes.

Silky wetness.

Surprisingly irresistible.

I understand the draw. My name Galit, pronounced Guh-leet, means little wave in the ocean. My parents always told me that this was my connection to water. I agreed.

Kayli keeps her eyes on mine as I turn the valve a bit more. Only missing one beat, she slips one impossibly small hand underneath the thin stream. Her smile is there. Careful. Slow. Almost imperceptible. But there.

Chloe’s tiny cry against my chest signals us inside. She arches her back commanding us to broaden the circle and we make our way up that tall cement block hand in hand, smiles in place.

***

Several years later, Kayli and Chloe fly off of that porch step, their own fingers entwined. Their bare feet soak in the warm cement, the cool grass, the wet dew.

Inhaling.

Giggling.

Summer-ing.

I follow behind.

Chloe boldly squeaks the nozzle and the water’s roar fills our ears. Kayli is ready; the hose in her confident hands. Just as Chloe steps into sight, Kayli presses the handle. Perfect timing. Full force. Smile uninhibited.

She is bold, vivid, alive, independent.

They look to each other. Their eyes lock as their arms tangle. Their heads close, their laughter loud. “That baby” throws her head back and opens her mouth wide. Kayli complies. That’s how it works with sisters.

I sit on that big cement step and smile as my two babies come alive with summer. I’m still warm but no longer sandwiched. We are resynchronized. And their together is—clearly, hopefully—forevermore.

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