Ever since my daughter was two, she has been talking about "Sally,” her imaginary sister. She's mentioned other imaginary friends, but they've come and gone. Sally has been a constant; she's talked about her “sister” pretty much every day for the past three years.
Sometimes Kate would talk about her multiple times a day: “My sister and I are gonna play a game," “Sally taught me a song,” “My sister thinks this tastes gross.” There have been times when either Katrina or I would get fed up and say, “That’s enough about your sister.”
A few days ago, I was about to give Kate a bath and she said, “Daddy, I want to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
“My sister left,” she said. “She’s gone.”
“Okay,” I said. I was half paying attention to this. When I hear her say “sister,” I sometimes start to zone out.
“She LEFT, Daddy. I said goodbye to her. She’s not coming back.”
She seemed like she wanted to talk about it, so I asked, “Why did she leave?”
“She doesn’t need to be here anymore because I’m going to have a brother soon.” (We're expecting a baby boy in about three weeks.)
“Oh,” I said.
“My sister left to go be with another girl who doesn’t have a sister. That’s her job.”
Apparently Katrina had overheard this, so the next night, maybe as a test, Katrina asked Kate about her sister.
“She’s gone, Mommy. She left.”
“She’s gone? Do you miss her?”
“No,” Kate said. “I said goodbye to her and she’s gonna help another little girl. She took a bus to get there. It’s a long trip.”
Just like that, the sister who’s been around for the past three years is gone, because Kate will soon become a sister. And somewhere in Kate’s imagination, a girl named Sally is taking a bus to help another little girl who needs her.