CREDOS : The greatest gift — I

When I was a child I was shocked at the idea that my sisters could be my best friends. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m five years old, and my mother is on her hands and knees, washing the kitchen floor.

I’m telling her about a new girl in school, and she suddenly looks up at me and says, “Who are your two best friends?” I’m not sure what to say. I’ve been friends with Jill since I was three or so, and I really like Jaime, a friend in kindergarten.

“Jill and Jaime.” My mother stops scrubbing the floor and starts to take off her yellow rubber gloves. “Well, what about Karen and Cindy?” My sisters? “I don’t know who their

best friends are,” I say. “No,” she says. “I’m saying, why aren’t they your best friends?” She seems upset, like I hurt her feelings. “But they’re my sisters.”

“Yes, but they can still be your best friends. Friends may come and go, but your sisters will always be there for you.”

At the time, the idea of my two sisters being my closest friends seemed strange to me. We fought all the time over toys, food, attention, what to watch on television — you name it, we bickered about it at some point. How could my sisters be my best friends?

They weren’t the same age as I. We all had our own friends in school. But my mother never let the three of us forget it: Sisters are lifelong friends. Her wish — like most parents’ — was to give us something that she never had. —