I knew I hit the sister lottery when I was going through a particular rough patch in my late 20s and called her at 3 a.m. in tears. There was no, “Do you know what time it is?” or a gruff “What?” – It was: “What happened? Are you OK?”  I wasn’t OK and she talked to me for three hours before having to get up with her newborn. Over a course of a year she got a lot of phone calls at similar hours and never once complained. That was some sister love.

Growing up we fought like cats and dogs. There was yelling, pushing and scratching. She had a penchant for kicking. Girl has some strong legs!  I don’t know how my parents stood it. We were sent to our respective rooms too many times to count. At that age, I felt it should all be blamed on my sister who had 3 1/2 years on me and should have known better.

We reached adulthood. Her with scars on her arm from some serious nail gashes and me with a habit of flinching since she repeatedly smacked me on the forehead.

Toward the end of high school with an ailing parent we banded together to help make the household run. It was far from smooth but it worked.

After my father passed, we went through a pretty rough patch. All of us dealing with grief, but mine manifested into a defensive, push everyone away from me kind of non-healing. My sister was always patient even when I was a straight-up bitch. I still apologize for that time. Luckily, I finally grew up.

With each of life’s trials, my sister has been there for me. She flew to Chicago to come get me after a failed marriage. Let me live with her when I went back to school (she has a seriously patient husband). Took turns driving a U-Haul on a 14-hour-long drive with a nervous cat.  She even paid for my last semester of my bachelor’s degree. She has given me solicited advice and love in spades. She has taught me the importance of selflessness and giving. I could seriously write a book about how great my sister is. I know at least one person who would read it. Yup, you guessed it, my sister. OK, maybe my mom would read it, too.

One memory sticks out during that tough time I mentioned at the beginning. I had just boarded a flight back to where I was living and in my book there was a folded piece of paper — a scrap of magazine she had ripped out and written on. It said, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  Of course I immediately burst into tears ­– the poor flight attendants. But that slip of paper with my sister’s handwriting made a huge impact on me. Helped me continue with the path that I was on.

So far, I’ve only mentioned my sister showing her love by giving me things. And yes, those were important and life-changing things and I am forever grateful. But my favorite thing about my sister is the time we spend together. I never laugh more than when I’m either alone with her or with her and my mom. We act goofy together and make our partners’ eyes roll often. I am absolutely at ease in her company. I consider her my best friend and she considers me hers.

Thank god my boyfriend likes my sister and mom. Because he’d be shown the door if he didn’t.

For the rest of our days I will thank my lucky stars to this woman I get to call my sister and I will never ever take that for granted or stop trying to repay her love with my love.

Love you, sister of mine!