Anyone who knows my sister Chrissy and I know that wer are as close as two sisters can be. She has my back, one hundred percent, one hundred percent of the time.

We are very different in many ways. We tease Chrissy that she is a “hippie”. She’s free as a bird, funny as all hell and a little, dare I say, flaky?  She is also one of the most physically beautiful people I have ever known, with the most amazing green eyes there ever were.

Everyone knows that these are not traits that would be used to describe me.  I guess I can be funny at times but, it’s a more sarcastic and biting type of humor. I am responsible and sensible (probably to a fault). Flaky is definitely not a word that would apply to me in any way. I wish I had more “Chrissy” in me – I think life would be more fun.

I know that Chrissy looks up to me. She is proud of her big sister. I have always had lots of friends, got good grades, went to a good college, have two beautiful children, a solid marriage and run a successful business. I survived cancer and try to be there for anyone who needs me.

Here’s the thing, though. There would be no “Nicole” without a “Chrissy”.  I don’t think she has any idea how much her beautiful, unending, unconditional love has helped shaped me into the person that I am and how it has allowed me to accomplish the things that I have.

We are so close, in a way, because of the turmoil that we experienced when we were very young. Our mother had gone through a terrible illness and was dealing with the aftershocks of that, our father was stepping out and there was constant fighting, yelling and uncertainty. I remember, during some of these blowouts between my parents, bringing Chrissy into our room, shutting the door and playing the music really loud to try to prevent her from hearing. I would do anything to distract her. This happened lots of times, I would take her outside or downstairs. Sometimes, I couldn’t protect her, she would hear and she would cry and then, those are the times I just put my arms around her and tried to comfort her.

Being there for her, being strong for her, I believe, has helped me to have the strong constitution that I have today. I’m sure she also didn’t realize, and doesn’t to this day, that she was saving me, as well, with her silliness, her kooky smile and her warm hugs.

As hard as those times were, I know that they also brought us closer together. We were inseparable. “Nicole and Chrissy”. We invented silly games, played Chinese Jump Rope, SPUD, Kick the Can. We jumped through sprinklers, went to camp at the “Y” and roller skated like nobody’s business. We idolized Olivia Newton John and wanted to marry John Travolta. We played our Xanadu record over and over until it was worn out.

We acted out plays (Grease, Annie, A Chorus Line) and we pretended we were secret agents. We stayed out until the streetlights came on.

I was no prize at times and acted like the typical big sister. When we played Star Wars, I was Princess Leia and I put a laundry basket on her head and made her be R2D2. She was only allowed to beep. When we played Charlie’s Angels I was Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) but, Chrissy couldn’t be Jill (Farrah Fawcett). I insisted that she be Sabrina, who I didn’t think was as pretty or glamorous as the others. As we got older, we fought about the usual stuff; clothes, boys, the phone, etc.

And, as many wonderful times as we have had, we’ve also been through some awful times.  The loss of our dear friend (and almost brother) in a motorcycle accident, our parent’s divorce and our father’s remarriage (with all of the feelings of abandonment and inadequacy that brings), our mother’s cancer and then, my own.

I say this was absolute certainty – I would not have been able to get through that without my sister, Chrissy. She listened, she held me, she laid in bed with me watching movies and fetching me anything I needed. She cleaned my house, she made sure that my kids got to school in the morning and that someone was there for them when they got off the bus in the afternoon. She made sure that my business was solid and that my absences were invisible. She handled things.

She also held my babies, fed my babies, dressed my babies and loved my babies. To them, she is an extension of their mommy.

Knowing that she was there made me keep my sanity during the dark times, when my survival was not a lock, not a given. I knew that she would always be there for them.

The movie “In Her Shoes” kind of reminds me of Chrissy and I. In the movie, Toni Collette plays the smart, sensible older sister and Cameron Diaz is the beautiful free bird. They have issues because of the differences in their personalities but, in the end, realize that they need each other, that their relationship is as special to them as any they could hope to have. They compliment each other and  they try to teach each other to be a little bit like themselves.

At the end of the movie, at Toni Collette’s wedding, Cameron Diaz reads a poem from E.E. Cummings called “I Carry Your Heart With Me”. It perfectly sums up how I feel about my beautiful, huge hearted sister, Chrissy. I am so very blessed to have her and treasure her every single day.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)