Linna and I at Crater Lake, Oregon, August 2019.

A Love Letter To My Sister

I don’t have a sister. Well, at least none that I share my parents with. But there are these people who feel like family, even though you are not blood related. My sister Linna is such a person.

Linna was six, I was 16 when we met. The first memory I have of her is how she is laying on the floor of a toy store, screaming and kicking, and making me, who was totally inexperienced with children, feel helpless and overwhelmed while the people around me either looked at me angrily or pityingly. A drama for the rather shy 16-year-old I was then. Today, almost 20 years later, Linna is terribly embarrassed by her behavior back then. But then she has to laugh. And me too.

Laughing about childhood memories
That’s the way it is when we talk about shared childhood memories. Just the ways sisters do it. I was 16 when I went to the US for a high school year. Linna’s parents, her sister, and Linna herself were my host family.

Although we can‘t be more different in many things – then as now – we’ve always had a close connection. Linna’s mother Laurie kept in touch after I went back to Germany, let me take part in family life, in happy events and in blows of fate. Linna was just too small. While I was studying the structures of the American government at school, she had just learned to write.

Participating virtually in each other’s life
At some point in the mid-2000s, Linna visited Germany. She must have been about twelve, I was about 22. We went to Christmas markets, ice-skated, looked at the green Bergisches Land, which is so different from her home California. These are the things sisters do with ten years of age difference. In 2008 I was back on vacation in California, enjoyed the time together. Afterwards, we didn’t hear from each other for a long time – until Facebook came up and we could virtually follow what the other one was doing. Graduation, trips, new relationships and separations – we were always part of each other’s life. Blessing or curse, because more than once I felt helpless because I couldn’t just be there from a distance.

The little one is suddenly grown up

2018: Reunion after ten years. Here is a photo from Smith Rock State Park.
2018: Reunion after ten years. Here is a photo from Smith Rock State Park.

We spent Christmas 2018 in Oregon together. “The little one” now lives there, drives a car, has a boyfriend, a good job and a farm with chickens and goats. The little girl had suddenly grown up. I was overwhelmed – and I’m as proud of her as a big sister can be. With 25 and 35 for the first time we sat together as adults – in front of the small fireplace in her living room, drank wine together, and talked about all the things that can hardly be written and said through messages or the telephone. Together with her whole family, who is also my family (Laurie, Robert, Minmay: <3), we played games, explored the area and had to say goodbye after a few days in tears.

2019: We can enjoy three weeks of sister time.
2019: We can enjoy three weeks of sister time.

Because Oregon is on the way between Vancouver and Mexico City, it was clear that I would also spend time with Linna while I was traveling around the world. Three full weeks of sister time. What a gift. She took time off work for me, showed me her favorite places (sorry California, but Oregon outstripped you a bit), invited me to her favorite restaurants, and made me part of her group of friends (guys, you rock!). We camped in the rain, walked along the beach, climbed over volcanic rocks, had time for long talks.

A sisters tattoo

The two gingko leaves represent love, friendship, and in our case big and little sister.
The two gingko leafs represent love, friendship, and in our case big and little sister.

A highlight: We got inked by a tattoo artist with a pencil painting Linna drew (she‘s so incredibly talented!). We are now carrying two leafs of the gingko, the Chinese tree of luck, near our shoulders. The two-part leafs are a symbol of love and friendship. Our two leafs also stand for big and little sister.

I am incredibly grateful for our very special sister relationship, in which we are always very close despite the spatial distance. Love you loads, sister, and miss you. <3

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