Whispers of Love
In a world that too often invites conformity and where it can be painful to reveal our deepest truths, sisterhood grants us the freedom to shed the protections we hold so closely around our unique selves. Author Colleen Sell expresses this beautifully when she says, “Of all the blessings sisterhood can bestow, I think the greatest is to be known, really known.” What a different world it would be if we felt free to be known in all relationships, as we are in our sisterhood.
What creates sisterhood? What draws us women to each other? How do we choose the ones to hold close, the ones who demand that we honor their sacredness—and in so doing, honor ourselves? I think the answer to this is not that we choose them, but that they choose us. Sisterhood is perhaps not something that we find so much as it finds us. I will share the experience that has led me to this belief.
Last year my husband was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease, and with his diagnosis came every kind of uncertainty that life can throw up. I have survived the past months in large measure through the friendship and support of two women—their laughter, their physical support, and most crucially, their willingness to hold space for my anger, frustration, desperation, and sorrow with utmost empathy.
Having made some friends in the few short years since moving to a new country, if I had chanced a guess at which of those friends would hold my hand through these challenges, I would have thought of the individuals I knew for the longest time. Yet, two very special women walked into my life just in time, just at the right moment, when they could be the pillars on which I would lean for strength and comfort. If there is no chance, if everything in this world is by design, then I am grateful for this blessed destiny.
Perhaps in my trauma, they saw reflections of their own. Stories of survival that were written into their own souls; stories through which they instinctively knew they could be my strength during my weakest moments. “You are so brave, you are so strong” were words that perhaps reflected the knowledge of their own strength, that allowed them to see it in me.
What I know is that in my despair, those words physically infused me with courage and strength. “What can I do for you? How can I help you?” were sincere requests to be of service that reassured me that I was not alone. Moments of comedy brought much-needed relief, and moments of shared sorrow reminded me that there is pain greater than my own.
I realize now that while their standing by my side may have seemed as sudden as my husband’s illness, their whispers of love had always been there, even when I may not have taken the time to recognize them. The small and large kindnesses, the gesture of including me in their lives, the willingness to see and accept the real me…were all quiet harbingers of the tremendous power of the love to come. I can only hope that in being chosen by them, they also feel chosen by me.
Yet, this sacred sisterhood could have easily been destroyed by misunderstandings if we had not invited honesty, expressed hurt, and extended forgiveness…if we had not allowed ourselves to be really known. I am indebted to the seeming instinct that our sisterhood should and would not succumb—that this precious connection is destined for much more, that together we can use our various talents to create meaningful change in the world.
That knowledge gives us a sense of purpose beyond ourselves, urging us to step forward in a world that needs much change. That purpose is focused on women, particularly older women, stepping into their power.
Chronic illness shakes our sense of security in an optimistic future to the core. Whatever the future holds, knowing that there will be strong footsteps alongside my own brings me immeasurable comfort.
Romantic love has its universal sensations of passion and euphoria. Parental love is universally understood as fiercely protective, while sibling love is known for its loyalty. The love of sisterhood is not so easily contained within general descriptions. The emotions, and the intensity of those emotions, experienced within circles of sisterhood may be unique to each, derived by the willingness of each sister to be “really known.”
Sisterhood is the container in which every other kind of love is dissected, berated, accepted. If we understood just how powerful this is, we would use it for immense change. Women working together are an indomitable force.
Being found and loved by two very special sisters during the most difficult challenge in my life has been a blessing beyond measure. I have learned to love myself more, as they have shown me that I deserve love. I have become more courageous in facing my shortcomings but also in accepting my wonderful strengths.
May we all give and receive the whispers of sisterhood love that make us a force for change.