The 3 of us, my first sisterhood: Camelia, Claudia (we called her “Nikki”) and me. Learning that sisterhood means being part of a tribe that always has your back. As we grow up together, I am reassured by what I recognize of me in them. But am also surprised by how our shared history and DNA manages to produce three beautifully distinct women. Love and loyalty, no matter what. That is the meaning of this first sisterhood. Even when we didn’t particularly like each other, but especially when we did.

The almost 400 of us at a girls’ boarding school in the mid 1970s in upstate New York, defying the notion that girls are no good at math, or science, or logic, or rational thought; defying the expectation that we were not much better than good wives- and moms-in-training.

The 7 of us in the waiting room, dreading, but also grateful for the legal availability of, our safe abortions.

The 2 of us, after several glasses of wine, admitting to each other that the boss had sexually harassed both of us.

The 2 of us, huddled in my bed the night I found my boyfriend dead from intentional  cyanide poisoning on his bathroom floor. My first close brush with death. How she cuddled me while I cried myself to sleep. She couldn’t bear the thought of me spending that night or waking up the next morning in bed alone. My Suicide Sister #1.

The 5 of us discussing the feminist aspects of what we were being taught in law school because some of the male professors didn’t have a fucking clue, and couldn’t have cared less.

The 8 of us, with our infants, sharing how hard motherhood was – not at all what the Hallmark cards promised – and how we were each managing. Some of us just barely.

The 2 of us, lovers, life partners, mother and step-mother, a weeping heap on the kitchen floor after learning of my son’s suicide. How she held and rocked me in her arms attempting to comfort the un-comfort-able. My Suicide Sister #2.

The 15 of us knitting together, sharing jokes, cookie recipes, stories of cancer survival, and the easiest way to create a cable on a sweater.

The 100s, perhaps 1,000s of us in pink pussy hats, marching against what we knew to be true, even before Day 1, that this was the beginning of a toxic, patriarchal regime.

The 20-something of us gathered at the bar on Lake Merritt, getting to know each other, renewing friendships, some of us flirty, but all of us there because we could not, would not fathom the thought of yet another gathering place for lesbians falling off the map.

The 7 of us in a writing circle in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pouring our lives, our loves, our losses, our laments, onto the page.

The 2 of us, my mother and I, standing by Nikki’s bed as my baby sister took her last breath. Realizing that death had given birth to yet another sisterhood: mothers who had outlived their children.

Left to right: Claudia (“Nikki”), Celenia, Camelia

January 8, 2020 marked the first anniversary of Nikki’s death. 




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