One of our favorite songs is "Sisters" from that Danny Kaye/Bing Crosby movie, White Christmas. Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen, with her impossibly tiny waist, sing it first, dressed in matching blue gowns, carrying blue feather fans. My sisters and I sometimes call each other on the phone and sing the verses to each other: "Sisters. Sisters! There were never such devoted Sisters…" Our devotion to each other spreads like golden tendrils across hills, mountains and right now, through telephone lines out to the West. Our voices, our minds and our hearts reach out, trying to touch, listen and soothe one of our own.
We, the older ones, cannot quite believe this is happening to her. We don’t have cancer in our family, we whisper to each other. I hold the phone away from my mouth as she tells me the latest news, which is not as good as we had hoped. I wish I was holding her close and I am glad I am not, because then she would know that I am sobbing, soundlessly, helplessly, hoping she cannot hear me. Why should I weep when it is not my body that has been assaulted? Why am I vicariously sad? This is not my pain; this is not about me. This is happening to my beautiful Baby Sister. I remember rushing home after high school to watch Sesame Street with her; I remember her tiny voice chattering away to her three imaginary friends.