I remember when she was born. I came home one afternoon and she was there in my mothers bed, nursing. I was allowed to hold her over a pillow and she rewarded me with the strangest little sounds. She was my sister and I instantly loved her.
Little blond hair sprouted out of her head and she grew to be so friendly with my brother with whom she would always seem to get into some kind of mischief while I read my books. She also made me the older sister, a title I was doomed to accept although I was not always successful in being the example my parents expected me to be.
She continued to grow and got much attention from all of us including my grandmother and my parents, in addition to a neighbor’s house where she spent many days of youthful bliss while we attended school. She was fond of the cool shade of their veranda, of the grapes hanging from their trellis and their current maid, soft and gentle.
She eventually adopted my friends as hers and accompanied us on outings to the beach or the mountains. She was beautiful and married young.
After both of us found our husbands we really became good friends. Back from South America I landed in Haiti with a leap in my heart remembering people I had not seen, along with places and cities where my memories were left untouched. We spent long evenings talking late into the night bringing to life the things of our childhood. Back in South America such long talks stimulated memories of home and brought tears to my face with my throat constricted and dry. They were things I longed for while I led my life in Peru or Bogotá.
We visited as sisters, but were also surrounded by our kids; and her husband would catch moray eels or else would talk to my husband while fixing some long rum punches. We talked as we soaked in the waves. He would also drive us to some hidden river where we met some long green snake that would scare the hell out of us and we would take refuge with bare tops in the green flow of the waters.
At times, we would both put on our makeup in the two vanities of her bedroom, each under a different light and talk until our mouths went dry. This house that both she and her husband designed created a U where the pool stood like an ancient blue lagoon graced with blooming hibiscus and Bougainvilleas with many hummingbirds turning around her head in the morning light to my total astonishment.
We grieved together when my parents died and when many of our loved ones disappeared. We went through the pain of the years growing up together under a dictatorship with its killings, its horrors and multiple crimes. We also witnessed together the birth of our first grandchildren and shared the fun of a trip to Paris.
Now in Colorado, we meet to tell stories about life and we laugh together. We remember the many memories of a land long ago left behind which will never be what it was before. The country of our childhood is gone.
Her strengths are in interpreting, in designing and growing great gardens, in people and stories and in writing like many others in our family had done. She balances my seriousness with her vitality and her laugh and her gift for people while I work alone in my studio!
But there is a reason why we are sisters; our family left us a legacy of pride, learning and the teaching of many principles and wisdom that we carry within us. At times it seems a burden, but we honor it the best we can. She is my sister of beauty and knowledge and our common roots run deep.
2010 Copyright Micheline Brierre