The day before yesterday my sister Gabrielle got the news she had been waiting for, quite literally for years.
Gabrielle is moving to Switzerland in August to join a small convent of traditional nuns. Gabrielle… my sister. My friend. My Gabrielle.
We have known this was coming for some time, if I’m being honest. I’ve probably written about it here. She had to finish paying off student loan debt in order to qualify for entering, and there were a slew of other hurdles for her to jump, but she’s conquered everything that has ever stood in her path, and she is going to be a nun.
To say I’m happy for her and proud of her are vast understatements. Words cannot describe the extent to which I feel both of these things, and how beautiful it is that she is called to this vocation, and how impressive it is that she wants to step up and accept that call. It is truly a marvel.
I am also a weak, selfish person. I will forever try to keep this part of me smaller than the excited and supportive part, but some times that just isn’t the case. I want her to be near me, even nearer than where she is living in far off Syracuse. I want to be able to talk to her whenever I’d like. Go see her whenever I’d like. Tell her everything and get all the advice I want and need,whenever I’d like. I want her to be the aunt and friend and godmother of the kids I will have one day. I want to stay close forever. But those things don’t really go with joining a convent in Switzerland. I can’t help but feel that the last I will see of her is the taking of her vows a year after she joins, and then that will be all. The end of all the daydreams and wishes for my own selfish future. I have to learn to give those up.
So now that her sacrifice has been accepted and visas and airfare are being secured, it is time to learn to make my own sacrifice. The greatest sacrifice that could come between us – that of letting one another go. Allowing her to see all my joy and none of my sorrow. Squashing that sorrow and making it so small and insignificant compared to the joy of my sister joining a religious order. The sacrifice of letting her do this incredibly huge thing while I sit here in the very separate life I have chosen, completely unable to follow her past the door. That is a huge sacrifice. Even in watching her constant sacrifices, this is one I don’t know how to emulate. I don’t know how to eventually say “goodbye.” without feeling the utterly imagined finality of it.
It’s going to be okay. She’s only going to be one continent over. And she’ll be praying for me. And we’re going to see each other again, plenty I’m sure.