During my childhood, I always had a great time together with my three younger sisters. We were all very close in age (mum and dad had four girls under the age of five) and so we were more like best friends. Of course we had our quarrels, but for the majority of the time we all got along and played well together.
I developed a particularly close relationship with one of my sisters. We were always together; playing in the backyard, jumping on the trampoline, climbing the haystack, making cubby houses and getting up to mischief whenever possible. We began to think alike, act alike and could make each other laugh until we cried. I would say for about ten years straight, at home we were pretty much inseparable.
Then somehow, somewhere along the line, we lost our unique connection. Looking back on it now, this was due to a combination of reasons. At eighteen, I left home and after completing my studies, I began working abroad – so our contact with each other immediately and dramatically decreased to next to next to nothing. It was also during this time that we tragically lost our youngest sister (you can read about that here). We each dealt with our grief in different ways; I went back overseas to try and distract myself by working, and my sister rebelled. Over time, our special bond with one another seemed to disappear. We still enjoyed each other’s company whenever we caught up, but that special connection we had seemed to be lost. Over the next fifteen years, I either lived abroad working on cruise ships, or in Sydney (a ten hour drive from the rest of my family), or in the Netherlands. So the opportunity for us to find that connection again unfortunately didn’t present itself.
Until 2015….. I was thrilled when my sister called to inform me that she had booked flights to come over and visit us here in the Netherlands! She was coming on her own and it would be her first time to Europe, so we were both extremely excited. Immediately we began planning our time together and counting down the days.
When she arrived at the airport in Amsterdam, we hugged for a very long time. I finally had my sister in my arms and I did not want to let go. I had big plans for our next two weeks together. I wanted to show her as much of the Netherlands as I could and everything I loved about it. In addition, I had a trip to Rome and Belgium planned.
During the first few nights she was here, we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning and just talked and talked and talked. There was no stopping us. She had brought two large bottles of Bombay Sapphire Gin at the airport and we definitely tested it out good and proper. We ended up nicknaming it ‘the blue truth serum’ as when we drank it, we just got everything out on the table and off our chests. For hours on end we talked, laughed, reminisced and cried, whilst sharing our fears, hopes and dreams with each other. It was wonderful in every way.
As I only had sixteen precious days with my sister, I had planned our time together in such a way that we had the opportunity to spend quality time with one another. Just the two of us. So on quite a few occasions, my husband or my parents-in-law looked after the kids whilst my sister and I made memories together to last a lifetime.
Firstly, we spent a full day together at Elysium sauna centrum. A full day of pure relaxation and sisterly chatter. An endless amount of saunas, pools, steam rooms and bubble baths. It was the perfect combination of relaxation and laughter as we began rebuilding our sisterly bond.
The kids and I then took her to see her very first castle, De Haar Castle near Utrecht. My favourite castle in the Netherlands, surrounded by stunning gardens. We toured the castle, walked around the grounds and then ate our picnic lunch on the lawns whilst taking in the scenery.
It was the middle of summer here in Europe, so we then spent a day on our boat, cruising the canals, showing her Holland at it’s best.
The two of us then headed to Amsterdam. We enjoyed a great city walking tour, Madame Tussauds wax museum and the Anne Frank House, we shopped, ate a nice dinner then enjoyed an evening canal cruise.
The following three days were spent in Rome. These three days were so amazing. I cannot explain how much I enjoyed this time together with my sister exploring such an amazing city. We found ourselves continuously falling into fits of laughter until we cried. We were really enjoying each other’s company. We visited all the sites that Rome had to offer, ate a lot of delicious Italian food and drank amazing frozen cocktails in the courtyard bar of our hotel. You could not wipe the smiles from our faces.
Our second week together consisted of visits to Delft, Ghent (Belgium), the Gouda Cheese Markets, the pancake boat in Rotterdam and the De Lier feest week (party week), all the while receiving copious amounts of quality time with my sister.
When it came time to take her to the airport and say goodbye, it was suddenly clear to us both that somthing has been ignited during those two weeks. A unique sisterly bond that had been lost, now was found. We had mended a bond broken and that was so valuable to us both. All we had needed was some quality time together to talk and laugh…oh and ‘the blue truth serum’ of course 🙂