We were young when our parents married. Nina, the youngest, was 6 and Julia, the oldest was, I think, 15 or so. Stephanie, Stacy and I were somewhere in the middle. We had all been through divorces and marriages before. For Nina, it was her first time having a step parent. For all five of us, it marked the first and only time we would find family through marriage as stepsisters.
The seven years they were together were happy for me. We lived in Manhattan Beach and seemed to play a lot as a family, spending full weekends on the beach chasing waves, building cars in the sand. We played softball at the park, having enough people to form teams. When Nina would come on the weekends, she would bring the latest records, like Saturday Night Fever or Rick James and we would make up dances and have theatrical performances after hours of rehearsal. One summer the Sister Sledge came out with "We Are Family" - I got all my sisters with me....... it became our theme song.
Nina lived with us for a year when I was in eighth grade and she was in seventh. It was balm for my soul because I was so close to my older sisters and had never been at a school without them (The year Steph went to Jr. High, they made it a middle school and I came too!). I was so happy. Over those seven years, we grew roots that intertwined. My heart knew their names, all of my sisters.
As I was distracted by the excitement of High School, their marriage was collapsing. They all slipped out, my stepfather, my stepsisters, seemingly undetected. I don't remember ever saying goodbye.
I am 40 now. Stephanie, Stacy and I have lived these years with the ghost of "where are Nina and Julia?" in our hearts, often speaking the words aloud to each other, Googling, when that became an option, but to no avail.
In October of last year, Nina and Julia's father passed away, and several months later my mom received a call from some authority, informing her of his passing.
We were all on Facebook by then, so Mom tried again to find Nina and Julia and this time, we succeeded.
Nina has married an incredible man. She has two beautiful kids, who look just like their cousins, OUR kids. Julia has married a wonderful man who adores her. We are filling in the parallels of our lives and picking up where we left off, choosing to never divorce again. We are reconnected as sisters, always.