My sister arrived in Australia today. I miss her. She’s not even been there 24 hours. She texted me to say there was a “beware of the snakes” sign outside the airport. I’m worried.
My sister is my best friend. She was there when Frog was born. She rubbed my back and told the midwives what I needed when I was too out of it and the NLM was too overwhelmed to speak up for me. She was the third person – after me and the NLM – to hold Frog in her arms and welcome her to our family. We gave Frog her name as a middle name, so they’re tied together forever. It fits, perfectly.
Saying goodbye was hard. Frog cried big ugly tears. She hit my sister with every ounce of her five year old emotional shovel, gulping tears in the throat, sobbing “DON’T LEEEEEAVE ME! I’LL MISS YOU! TAKE ME WITH YOU TO AUSTRALIA!”. My sister (who, unlike me, isn’t really prone to tears) cried. I told her to beware of the sharks. She promised she would, so I felt a bit better. I’m really worried about the sharks. And the snakes.
She has a four year visa. Secretly (possibly not so secret now I’ve written it on the internet) I’m terrified she’s going to decide she prefers living nearly 10,000 miles away and never come home. It’s a possibility.
But then I think of my beloved little sister working in a hospital as a doctor in Australia, doing hours that won’t kill her or send her insane. I imagine her finishing work after a perfectly acceptable 10 hour shift saving lives and, perhaps, even squeezing in time for an early morning run along the beach, or even going for an evening meal with her boyfriend.
I remember all the times she’s rung me in tears over the past few years, spent beyond measure after gruelling hours tending to incredibly sick people, only to be told once her twelve hour shift comes to an end that she has to work an extra indefinite number of hours. The time she rang me from the carpark after a fifteen hour shift (and was due back into work in seven hours) and had a flat tyre but the hospital parking attendents wouldn’t let the breakdown man in to fix it, because he didn’t have the right parking permit. Beurocratic, non-sensical crap that didn’t leave anyone winning.
I think of my little sister in Australia and hope that while she’s there she’ll have all the things that will, ultimately, make her an even better doctor. A doctor who’s not frazzled by a squeezed NHS that’s being deliberately broken by a government who clearly doesn’t believe in free healthcare for all (thanks for that, Mr Cameron).
And I think of all the cool sights she’ll inevitably see and the people she’ll inevitably meet and I don’t feel so worried or sad any more. As long as she’s careful of the sharks. I do worry about the sharks.
It’s funny. There are many times as a kid I probably wished her the 9,730 miles away that she is now. Like when she used to spy on me talking to boys, for example. Or when she would do handstands in front of the TV when I was trying to watch Hollyoaks. Or when she’d sneak my diary and write her own updates in it.
But even then, I was fiercely protective of her. As annoying as she was, I was the only one allowed to say so. Even my parents couldn’t tell her off – if any adult dared to scold her that adult would be on our list of “Bad People” forever more.
I remember one time when we were on one of our annual family holidays to France. No idea how old we were – maybe seven (her) and eleven (me)? We were visiting a French guy my parents had been (and still are) friends with for years, camping in his garden. My sister had THE most annoying whistle thing she’d got from the local market. She wouldn’t stop blowing the bloody thing. After countless warnings the French friend shouted at her. Although it wasn’t me he’d shouted at, I felt as if I’d been stung by a hornet. I took my sister out to the tent in the garden and we refused to leave it for at least an hour. It was baking, like being inside a sweaty sock on a hot summer’s day, but we didn’t relent.
My sister’s four years younger than me. Baby Girl is four years younger than Frog. I’ll be thrilled if they have anywhere near as happy a relationship as I have with my sis. They’re flipping lucky. Not only do they have someone to blame whenever they get into trouble, they have a potential best mate for life. (Even if that best mate does handstands in front of the TV or steals their diary.)
I hope they’ll love each other this much no matter what time zone they’re in. Just like me and my sister.
(Lizzy, I love you. Beware of the snakes. Uphold your promise to not swim in shark infested waters. And always, ALWAYS, check your shoes for spiders. OK, now go and have fun. xxxxxx)Follow
Steph Oakes says
Ah Molly, I know exactly how you feel. My sister (also my bestie) moved to Hong Kong with her husband and my three month old niece and then Singapore for four years and although there were a lot of tears shed on her departure (mainly mine, she’s a lot stronger than me!), it most definitely wasn’t that bad. We facetimed A LOT, we holidayed over there a lot and travelled around Asia with the kiddies which was lovely and just before they had #2, they decided to come back home to blighty, phew!! Your sis will have a whale of a time and I’m totally jealous! Xx
Oh what a lovely post Molly. I’ve seen how you’ve felt about your sister leaving and know it’s hard for you both. I loved reading about your relationship- I was the annoying younger one until I also became a big sister (middle child) but I also remember my big sister sticking up for me too. I love seeing my own girls relationship too. I was one of three sisters and so are they (also with similar age gaps between) but with an added brother. I don’t think distance can ever separate that sister bond (although I know things are different on a practical level). Wishing both you and your little sister all the best during this time xxx (also you have to have a holiday there to visit them!)
Mollyyyyyyyyyy *sniff* *sniff* *sniff* I can relate to so much of this. I love my sister with every ounce of my being. I understand everything you’ve shared. Thank goodness for Skype and What’s App, I hope it’s enough for you both. Never the same, but better than nothing. For lots of reasons we’re already weighing up ‘do we don’t we think about having another baby’ and my own sister is such a huge driver for thinking about a sibling for Ff. Lots of love, I hope these next few first days apart aren’t too tough xxx
Jane clarke says
Molly I know Lizzy is miles away and face time and Skype aren’t the same but it is available now. Think of it as a holiday destination start saving up. Townsville is an amazing place with the old kinda trains running thro the centre of the town on tracks up the Main Street no barriers. A themed bar looks like a jungle inside. An aborigine cultural centre on the outskirts. Mount Archer. Saw no snakes. Did not go into the water. Never mind the Sharks what about the salt water crocs they are even closer to the beach. Box jelly fish. Keep the vinegar near. They do have netted areas to swim in. Lizzy is very sensible.
Ghislaine Forbes says
Thank you sister (big) for telling my eldest there are also salt water crocodiles to worry about!
Beautiful, kind words Molly….a far cry from your 10th Birthday Party (The Tudor dressing up Drama one) when Lizzy was stealing the show and you demanded we got her out of the drama studio “NOW!”
It is lovely knowing you deeply care for eachother, respect eachother and will ALWAYS look out for eachother.
Love ma x
Right Royal Mother says
What a lovely, lovely post. My sister and I have had our ups and downs over the years but are now absolutely best friends (something about having small children at the same time ..?!) Good luck to Lizzy and you – I am sure you’ll see each other soon and Frog will be fine :). xxx
Bizarrely, we met an Australian doctor on a glacier in Iceland, who’d just been visiting London to check out working for the NHS. I’d mentioned Lizzy’s upcoming move to Oz and she said that Lizzy would have a fantastic opportunity to study tropical medicine. Furthermore, there was a large population of indigenous Australians who pose interesting medical problems, very different from those she’d find in Britain. I’m sure she’ll be safe. I’ve checked out the weather for this week – sun and 32 degrees – so now I have complete weather envy. My year abroad was one of the best ever, despite missing my family and my boyfriend and with no ‘instant’ media. I’ve already started saving for the air fare to Oz…all I need is a distraction for the flight – two little great nieces perhaps??? Great post Molly.
Ah, this is so emosh! Same here, my sister is my bestie. But for most of adult life we have lived on the otherside of the world! I have to say, you do get used to it, it becomes less heart aching.