Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sense, Sensibility and Sisters

Last week, on a quiet afternoon, I was tempted to watch the Emma Thompson  version of Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen loved sisters. Her two most widely known books - Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility – are more about sisters than the love interests they develop. In both books, the one truly significant relationship in the life of the heroine is the one she has with her sister.

In the climactic scene in S&S, Elinor sits by her sister’s sickbed, believing her to be fading fast.  Her panic is overwhelming – “Anxiety and hope now oppressed her in equal degrees.”  In the movie version, Elinor is more transparent: “Try, Marianne, try.  I don’t know what I should do without you.”

I love that version because she can’t resist being the big sister even in this moment of life and death – telling her to “try.” And really, in general big sisters can’t resist being big sisters. Trust me, I have four of them. 

Here we are,  several years ago (ahem). You can see that Ginger is actively big sistering me.

As I go through life, I have found that I collect sisters: my college roommates, friends from an old job, local friends, book club, sisters-and-cousins-in-law. I seek them out because my “sisters” provide the framework on which I make judgements about my world, vent frustrations, and learn what I’m supposed to do.  They help make sense of the world and give me the sensible answer, and respond with sensibility, whether I am right or wrong.

Mostly, though, when I am with my sisters, I laugh. And laugh.  I am my most entertaining, my silliest, my most fun self when surrounded by sisters. I feel most appreciated, most “Helen.” And let me tell you, my sisters (all of you), I appreciate you back.