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It had been a long time; and she felt suddenly, strangely shy. So much had changed. Once they'd been a tightly-knit family group, the four of them against the world. That world hadn't always treated any of them well, but together they'd been safe, and together they'd been happy.

All too soon, everything had changed. Life had changed it, as it always did. Men. Marriage. Homes. University. Careers. Children. War. Oh, she’d always known that things had had to change, and she hadn’t been sorry for it: life had given her her beloved father back, for a short while at least; and she’d never either forget or regret her happy days amid the dreaming spires of Oxford. Nor could she ever do anything but rejoice at the happiness which marriage and motherhood had brought the others. Anyway, she was happy here, in her Canadian cloisters. Her life had a meaning, a purpose. This was where she was supposed to be. She was a Bride of Christ, and her fellow nuns were her Sisters.

But she had a different sort of sister too, three sisters; and all these years she'd never, ever stopped missing them. It had been so many years. She'd never met Joey's youngest children, not even the one who bore her name, and Madge's youngest boys could have no memories of her either. It had been her own choice, to enter the life she had, but nothing was without its sacrifices and hers had been her separation from her family.

She hadn't known, then, just how long a separation it would be. It wasn't as if she was entering a closed order, she and they had all assured each other. They'd be able to come and visit her. Travel was getting cheaper and easier all the time. But they hadn't come. Oh, they’d written. Even some of the older children had written. But it wasn't the same; and the years had passed and still they hadn't come. She didn't blame them. They had homes and families to look after, work to do and other people to visit; and travel was still neither that cheap nor that easy. But she’d never stopped hoping. She'd never stopped waiting. And she could hardly believe that the wait was finally over.

She only really started to believe it when the door opened and in they came. First Madge, who'd been left in charge of three young girls and been both mother and sister to all of them. Then Juliet, who'd been abandoned as a teenager by her birth family but found her place in a new one. And, behind them, Joey, to whom she'd once been closer than to anyone else in the world; and, in some ways, always would be.

At first no-one spoke. Then Madge held out her arms, and all four of them drew together. All talking at once. Laughing. Crying. And clinging on to each other. Just as true sisters always did.

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