One of my favorite pictures wasn’t taken with a two-thousand dollar camera, or posed by a stylist, or is completely in focus. It was taken by me on my iPhone 6 of my two sisters dancing in our kitchen to “Can I have this dance?” High School Musical gifted us with a lot of things, one of which was a plethora of dance songs.
It’s precious to me because it captures so many memories and emotions all in one snapshot. Joy. Goofiness. Freedom. Letting loose. Delight. Celebration.
My sister had just returned home from South Africa, having been gone a month. We picked her up from Hartsfield-Jackson with our hand-drawn posters and hugs. And when we came home, the music started blaring. For as long as I can remember, kitchen dancing has been a thing of sisterhood. From house to house, from age to age, it’s been a fixture. Those kitchen hardwoods have served as our personal stage, hosting many choreographed routines, concerts, and freestyled waltzes.
While we don’t make an appearance on that stage as often as we used to, when we are together in one home, music and/or dancing often find their way in (thanks to one younger sister with an affinity for loud volume and tunes).
We’re close, us sisters. The relational dynamics shift season to season, just as leaves change colors, or new fruits come into bloom.
But we didn’t always recognize the bond of family as a gift. When one sister’s friend came over, our mom would remind that sister to include the others in our playtimes. With a sigh, we’d (sometimes) comply. And being homeschooled meant we saw more of each other than the average siblings. In the early days of homeschooling, we’d sit around the same table for ‘class,’ or do homework all in the same room.
Yet, I didn’t fully realize the gift my sisters were until a few years later. Like most siblings, we got in petty fights all the time. During one particular fight with my older sister, I locked myself in my room. She tried to open the door, but the lock – and I – wouldn’t budge.
A folded piece of paper was shoved through the thin crack between the door and the floor. Who even knows what we were fighting about, but I will always remember that note.
“Dear McKenzie, I’m sorry for (insert thing we were fighting about). … I love you. … You’re my best friend.”
That small note altered my life and my relationships.
I realized in that moment, that my sisters were my best friends. Mom had no doubt realized years ago that our sister relationships were a gift, and that we were stuck with each other, better or for worse.
For each of us Cunningham sisters, our friend groups have looked different every season. But throughout middle school and high school and college and adult life, our sister best-friendship has remained.
I’ve seen each of them at their worst and at their best, just as they can testify to my nice and ugly sides. We have this landscape view of each other’s heart journeys, testifying to both the Mount Everests and Mariana Trenches of our lives. I am known by my sisters, and them by me. And to be fully known is to be fully loved.
Since the day my sister slid that note under my door, I’ve tried my best not to forget that, to not fall back into my childish view of our relationship.
That dancing picture sits as a reminder on my desk. I love the snapshot because it takes me right back to that moment, it makes me smile, and reminds me what a gift sisters are.