I've read most of Anna Quindlen's novels, many of her columns, and some of her non-fiction. But of all of her books, the one that has meant the most to me is "Siblings", a book about sibling relationships with photos by Nick Kelsh. I first read an excerpt from the book in a magazine about 1998 and clipped it out, filing it away as I do many clippings. I ran across that clipping years later and decided to see if the book it was lifted from was still available. Thanks to the wonders of online booksellers, I was able to order four used copies (it's no longer in print) - one for myself and one for each of my siblings. I sent the books to my siblings at Thanksgiving in 2006 with a letter in which I wrote: "She writes that she 'doesn't understand how people learn to live in the world if they haven't had siblings.' She says that 'we can never really lose them, or we have lost our history, our past, a part of ourselves that we cannot do without.'" I underlined that last phrase and put it in bold type and wrote "I cannot do without the three of you." Quindlen doesn't sugarcoat the sibling relationship. She recognizes the tensions, the jealousies, all of the negative emotions.
About that same time I sent my children a copy of the excerpt from the book. I reminded them that as young adults with busy lives and small children it is surely hard to make time to stay in close contact with each other - but that one day those children would be on their own. That if they didn't make the time for each other now they may realize one day that they don't know each other very well anymore. And that would be a great, great, loss, for they will need each other.
I realize that I am incredibly blessed by the love and support of my siblings. We haven't grown apart over the years, though we have certainly lived great distances apart. It has not all been smooth going. There have been misunderstandings and resentments, as there are in all relationships. But the love is always there, holding us together. I love you Ricky, Ann, and Mary!
"'Flesh of my flesh,' they may sometimes say in the marriage ceremony, but it's just not true. It is not even true of our children who are part of us; part of someone dear to us; loved by us; but not made of what we are made of. But our brothers and sisters: Well, it is all the same clay." Anna Quindlen