Siblings

In the early morning of August 9th, Zibin and I were at Toronto’s Pearson Airport awaiting my 大姑 and 姑丈’s arrival. Suddenly, our attention was drawn to the enthusiastic and extremely passionate embrace that a young man who had just arrived was receiving from a girl. Zibin made a tongue-in-cheek quip about young love, but I disagreed with him. They were siblings, I said. I was proven right in a minute when an older couple who were clearly the parents walked up and kissed the young man. The younger sister was exuberant in her joy, giving her older brother big squeezes and jumping with excitement. As I watched them exit the arrival hall, I realized that my face had been frozen in a big grin for I don’t know how long.

Hui Xuan arrived back in Toronto yesterday. Her impending return had been ‘well-publicized’ by her two older sisters who, on different occasions and mediums, have indicated their eagerness and joy (to practically anyone and everyone I think) to see her again after a summer of being apart.

This recent display of sibling affection has called to my mind that scene at the airport I just described, and also to the time when Wanting was so happy and excited about her big brother’s return to Toronto that she clean forgot about her driving lesson. There has always been something about siblings’ affection for one another that touches me.

In the July 10, 2006 edition of Time Magazine (Canadian Edition), there is an article by Jeffrey Kluger on how siblings shape us.

Our spouses arrive comparatively late in our lives; our parents eventually leave us. Our siblings may be the only people we’ll ever know who truly qualify as partners for life.

When I was growing up, I was given frequent reminders about the importance of my relationship with John. To not take him for granted. I was reminded about how important a role I played in his life as big sister, that I have to be a good example and to take care of him because one day, I will need him to take care of me too.

I doted on him when he was a baby and toddler. Was at turns nice and mean to him when we were children (yes, I had lots of fun at his expense). Took him for granted when I was a teenager. I always knew though, that I loved him. I never realized how important it was that he knows and feels loved by me. Until one evening in 1998 when I realized just how poorly I’d been loving him and how thin our relationship really was. I felt hurt, and rejected, but I knew even then that the bulk of the blame rested on me. That day was my wake-up call, and I wished fervently for a chance to set things right.

God gave John and I 6 years in Canada to renew our relationship. Those years were particularly difficult years for John who struggled with being ‘two years ahead’ academically as well as emotionally. But that span of time also served as a second chance for me to redeem myself, to become the elder sister I was meant to be.

I’m sure we all know of estranged siblings. Siblings who have so much misunderstanding, hurt, and unforgiveness between them that they can barely stand to even be in each other’s presence. There is nobody who suffers more from this broken relationship than the siblings themselves.

Today I pray for the siblings I know in my life. Those in my extended family and those who are my friends. I remember especially, a pair of brothers much older than me, as well as a pair of sisters of my generation. It’s never too late to begin again if you truly desire it. May you once again find joy in each other and be glad of your life-partnership.

And to my all-time favourite sibling: Chatterbox misses you. :P

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