Becoming Beth

Illustration for Chatelaine Magazine, in the style of a old Charlotte Bronte novel. The story is a very moving one. Have a read and try not to cry.

We were four sisters — now we are three

We were inseparable, just like in Louisa May Alcott’s classic tale, Little Women. But then one of us got sick — and the storyline changed.

I have three sisters and, growing up, we used to compare ourselves to the sisters from Little Women. We all wanted to be Jo, because Jo was the strong, independent one, and none of us wanted to be Beth, because Beth gets sick and dies. We also couldn’t imagine anything more tragic than losing a sister.

The four of us had the kind of bond people marvelled at. We were close in age, yet there was never a sense of competition between us, which allowed us to feel genuinely happy for one another and to celebrate one another’s accomplishments as we became adults. We owe this to our mother, who managed to raise four girls without playing favourites. When she died of ovarian cancer at 59, we grew even closer. We were all in it together, and we knew we had something special.