a photo of our editor-in-chief, taylor balfour, smiling with her sister rachel. taylor balfour

On the second anniversary of her passing, I am still a sister by distance

The other day, while scrolling through my social media feeds, I stumbled across a video of Halle and Chloe Bailey, the musical sister duo that goes by the name Chloe x Halle. The video consisted of the sisters tearfully talking to each other on Instagram Live, expressing how much they missed each other.

Due to separate projects, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, the two sisters aren’t in the same location. The highlight of this livestream, at least to me, was when Halle says, “I’ve always been near my sister, so this is like really […] it’s different for me not having you by my side, you know?”

The remainder of the video is the sisters sharing the moments they miss the most with each other, including always having someone to talk with and always having someone to show potential outfits off to. This video hit home for me, as I watched it exactly one week before the anniversary of my little sister’s death.

Rachel was my only sister. We were separated a year and a half by age, but that didn’t stop us from spending ridiculous amounts of time together. Out and about in public, people thought we looked more like friends than sisters, with our contrasting hair colours and styles.

Rachel had bright blonde hair, entirely natural. She liked wearing it in buns on the top of her hair, or wearing it naturally down her shoulders. She loved leggings and leather jackets. Her maroon pair of Doc Martins boots was her favourite and, in later years, she would wear a Tree Of Life necklace, filled with various colours of natural crystals.

In comparison, I had short brown hair. I wore jeans and cardigans, hoodies and comfy t-shirts. I have, I swear, around 10 different cardigans. Too many of them look the same. But, of course, that was a running joke between the two of us.

Watching videos like this one shared by Chloe and Halle, seeing the strong bond of sisterhood expressed so deeply and unabashedly brings me to tears. Chloe and Halle are separated by space, but in time, they will come to hug each other again.

Hearing their stories of adoration makes the loss of Rachel ache that much more. Rachel and I are separated by life. The next time I will be able to hug her is infinity away. I say this not to dismiss what Chloe and Halle are going through or are expressing. In truth, I want to build off of it. I want to expand on the glowing bond of sisterhood I saw throughout their livestream.

The same room where I would pop in to watch comedy YouTube videos with her is now host to all of her untouched clothing, her untouched bed, and her instruments, stacked against the walls. Her mirror is scattered with sticky notes from her classmates and friends; ones that they had placed on her dorm room door after she passed away. Her desk now holds grief cards instead of her computer. Her bed holds her childhood toys instead of her.

Our basement, where we played video games for days at a time, shared Slurpees and snacks, hid out from the world and created our own space, is now a gym. The furniture has been moved. Her consoles are no longer there. The room that used to be my safe haven is now a permanent reminder of her absence.

In the same room where we used to sit and laugh, eating late-night fast food and watching TV when our parents weren’t home, there is now her urn and her blown-up grade 12 graduation picture – her smile bright and beautiful – from her funeral.

When she was alive, Rachel spent her free time coding, working on drawing or animation projects, or learning more about computer science. She was a quick learner, a lover of video games, and a straight-A student. In comparison, I loved to write and read. I spent my free time writing and drafting stories, working on my Carillon articles, and watching her – as I always preferred to – as she gamed away.

Our pastimes were always so different, but we did them together anyway. I’d sit in our basement writing my news articles for the week, and Rachel would sit across from me, playing video games and laughing at the YouTube creators we loved. It was a testament to how much we loved each other. Even when we wanted to do different things, we just did them together.

When this article is released, we will be on the brink of her second anniversary. It marks two years since she left this Earth. Two years since my other half – the only person who wandered this same road with me to this point – was gone.

When Halle expressed how it feels so different not having her sister by her side, not having someone to always talk to, someone who loves you unconditionally and has stuck by you through it all, I know exactly what she’s talking about. The bond of sisterhood is unlike anything else, and seeing celebrities so freely and openly express their adoration for their siblings brings more peace to my heart than anything else. Siblings, but especially sisters, are so rare and special. It is a bond that is so tightly, deeply knit. It stands any and every test of time.

Sisterhood remains, despite space or distance, and despite life and death.

I too am now eagerly awaiting the day Chloe and Halle will be able to hug each other again. Despite my Rachel being gone, seeing sisters united has always brought me peace, not sadness. Everytime I see sisters reunited, I feel the warm glow of sisterhood through them. It feels comforting, and reminds me of when I had that feeling too.

I like to think that the warm feeling at those times is Rachel, reminding me that deep down, our sisterhood will always reside in me too. I am still a sister, even by distance. That will never change.

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