In which I learn the most important life lesson about women

My brother, sister, and I from high school, circa 2000
My brother, sister, and I from high school, circa 2000

One day my sister Kathleen and I were both up at our church and I wanted to tell her something. We were in high school. She’s 14 months older than I am. We liked each other, never fought.

We were very close as children, moving around a whole lot, but when it came to personal issues—as high school students—it wasn’t like we were opening up about our formative experiences.

At church that day, she wasn’t around me at the time so I scoured the church for her and eventually found her tucked away in a back room. The type of place where you have to really want to talk to someone if you’re going to commit to that kind of search. She was crying, curled up on a couch.

I had never seen my sister cry; she was always very strong and in control. I came in the room, sat down, and asked her what was wrong. She started to tell me, and I would interject every once in a while trying to ease her feelings.

I hated to see her cry and I wanted to do anything I could to fix it. She would start talking again and then I would comment again and she’d have to start talking again and I’d try to comment again because it hurt me to see her cry.

Eventually she just turned to me, stared me down and said: “Shut up!” I froze. “I don’t always need you to fix things. Sometimes, women just have to talk. And all you have to do is listen.”