Clarissa entered this world ten minutes before I did.
My twin sister had a running start on life. She was the first to squeeze her way out of Mom’s uterus, and the first in everything else.
The first to lose a tooth.
The first to ride a bicycle.
The first to be noticed by boys.
Clarissa already had full breasts by the time Mom gave me my first training bra – Clarissa’s old training bra. Gee, thanks Mom.
The boys at school practically fell over themselves to get my sister’s attention, but she wasn’t interested in dating. She wanted to be a dancer when she grew up. Boys would only get in the way.
Mom and Dad claimed they didn’t have a favorite. Parents are the masters of white lies. They adored Clarissa. She was the smart one, the pretty one, the one most likely to succeed. I loved her and hated her at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong, Dr. Graham. I didn’t always hate my sister. When we were little we were best friends. We told each other our deepest, darkest secrets.
We even invented our own language – “Sisooka”. I still remember how Clarissa would burst into giggles every time I called our balding dad a “lottanoggin” behind his back.
We started drifting apart when Clarissa hit puberty. She grew curves and transformed into a completely different person. Now even strangers could tell us apart. For the first time in our lives we were seen as individuals rather than two halves of a whole.
Clarissa embraced her new identity with open arms. In her mind she was now the more mature, more sophisticated sister. I was the baby sister. The sister who still had to grow up. The sister who couldn’t possibly understand what it meant to be a teenager.
The more she embraced this new identity, the more she pushed me away.
I pushed right back. I was her twin, after all. I could be every bit as stubborn as she was.
The joy and laughter we had once shared gave way to jealousy and bitter resentment. When we stopped sharing our secrets with each other, my sister became a total mystery to me.
I wish I could go back in time. I would give anything to hug Clarissa and tell her that I love her, but I can’t.
Clarissa is dead.