The Differences That Tie Us Together

05/07/2015 05:39 pm ET | Updated May 07, 2016


For as much of the first four years of my life as I can remember, all I wanted was a sibling. In my toddler opinion, having a sibling ensured having a playmate, a life-size doll genetically wired to love me unconditionally and eternally. Nearly every chance I got, I asked for a brother or sister, as if acquiring a child was as simple as buying a new dress. My parents had sat me down several times and tried to simplify the abstract concept that they were just unable to have another child, but their words did not mitigate my tenacity towards the subject. Finally, after all those years, they silenced my pleas with the words, "we're going to have a baby." My joy could not be suppressed, and for months my parents were submerged in a series of other questions about the baby I had already fallen in love with.

When the call came that Gabriella's mother had gone into labor, I was more than ready to jump on the plane to Oregon with my mom. I wore my nicest dress, red and black plaid with a bow on the collar. I wanted to make a good impression on my baby sister, ignoring the fact that she would not know what I was wearing, that her eyes would not even be open. However, once the nurses handed the delicate body to me, I knew nothing else mattered. As I sat there kissing the forehead of the new life I had dreamt about, I whispered to my mother, "We got the best one!"

Although my sister impacted my life from the moment she entered it, every single day her presence has formed me into the person I have become. From the start we were opposites. Not only physically, with her pin-strait hair and tiny frame contrasted to my abundant curls and ever-growing height, but also in our dispositions we were vastly different. Gabby was a peaceful and carefree child, and I always worried enough for the both of us, making sure everything was perfect.

When Gabby dropped her pacifier on the floor I would run to snatch it from her hands, seconds before it was reunited with her lips, in order to wash the mouthpiece and avoid any germs from entering her little body. On outings to the beach, when Gabby found it just fine to "make friends" with families seated nearby, plopping herself down on their towels and helping herself to their fries, I would sprint over and apologize to any of the laughing, astonished beach-goers. I would then proceed to walk Gabby back to our towels, the whole while scolding her for her poor social etiquette and warning her about "stranger danger". Even later in life, when I found myself limiting the number of times I checked my online report card, in the hopes of reducing stress in regards to my grades, Gabby spent many days trying to explain to my mom the notion that "grades are just numbers", and "numbers don't mean much". Though we valued certain aspects of life differently, we evened each other out. We never clashed or collided, but complimented one another perfectly.

At a certain age, I had, in my head, appointed myself an unofficial third parent to my little sister, and, like all other parents, I didn't want to protect her so much that I suffocated her. When Gabby would undo my Rubik's Cube because she thought it was "prettier with the colors rearranged", I was forced to see the beauty in my sister's simple thinking, in order to circumvent any arguments. When she didn't like the fashion-forward clothes I bought her because they were "itchy" or "too tight", I couldn't object. They were itchy, and they were tight in places not exactly complacent with seesawing, cartwheels, or playing tag. I had to understand that we were two different people, and accept that she would not be fond of everything I liked. Our differences were great, and, although these differences grew by the day, we never had trouble relating on some level.

People have asked me before if there's difficulties that come with having a sister who's adopted. They've asked me if our differences get in the way, or if it's ever a factor in our relationship. My answer has always been, "Well, we adopted her the day she was born," but that doesn't even begin to cover how I feel. No two sisters are ever the same. Everyone has differences, but what binds us together isn't our similarities, but the chances we have to grow from one another, the experiences we share, the opportunities we've had to comfort one another, and the love that has been a part of our relationship since the day she was born. There has never been one moment where I thought of my sister as anything other than my sibling. Yes, we are not the same. We are nowhere close to being similar. We have different strengths and different weaknesses, but those are exactly what make us the best match in the world. Every day I am blessed to develop into a better person because of my sister.