Every time, I would leave them sadly, but knowing that I couldn't go back. I had to spread my wings in the world. After my time in the convent, I wasn't the same. I would never fit in my family as well as I did when I was a child. I was growing into an adult, and for me, that meant supporting myself alone.
And I think I did an ok job of it. I lived alone, and then with my husband and his parents. I found my way into another family who accepted me. But I never forgot my own family. I lived a long way from them - a whole country's length away. But they were always in my heart, even if I couldn't visit as often as I'd like.
I used to be able to visit every year. However, money became very tight after my wedding. It's 2014, and I haven't seen my family since my wedding in 2011. That's three years! I see photos of my little sisters now - they are so tall! And I hear stories about them, and I read their own accounts of their lives, as well as chatting to them on the phone - and they have grown up so much.
I am so proud of them. They are beautiful young women, and they seem so grounded and happy. But there is a sadness in my heart everytime I think of them, too. Do they ever think of me? Am I relevant to their lives at all? Or am I too far away, too distant to be more than an interesting relative who appears out of the blue every so often, only to be whisked away by plane in a week's time?
In my mind, a good big sister would be close to their siblings, close enough to talk about all sorts of things. Maybe she would treat them to exciting new experiences, show them what it is like being a young adult. She might have a slightly different perspective on life to their parents, and be able to discuss that with them.
A good big sister would be able to be more than a fleeting week of interaction here and there. She could be a friend and confidante. She would definitely be more than what I provide, in my mind anyway.
And so I feel guilt when I talk to my sisters. I have high expectations of what I should be able to give them, and don't. Do my sisters feel the same way? I don't know. Maybe they gave up on me a long time ago.
To my sisters: I am not a good big sister. I don't give you the attention you deserve. But please don't forget me! I miss you so much. I try all the time to save the money to come visit again, even though it is hard. And one day, maybe we'll be able to get to know each other again, and catch up on the time I was far away from you.
I love you, my beautiful sisters. I can't wait for the next time I can come visit. Until then, remember me!