Friday, March 14, 2008

History of Sisters


Today is Michelle's 37th birthday. I am thrilled for her, I really am. But I am also feeling the distance, for sure. I would say that moving from Utah this year was most difficult for just a couple of reasons, but paramount was leaving my sister and her family. Shell and I are 10 years apart. We didn't share much of the same years growing-up, and we both have separate childhoods. When she was in high school, I was a pesky underfoot child. I have seen pictures and heard stories recalled that she loved me as a baby, and tended to me often. Not surprisingly, as we both grew older, our relationship was driven with a greater and greater wedge. I do not recall any specific abuse or damages caused me, but I do remember several irritating behaviors that I instigated. I remember Ryan and I (our brother- square in the middle-) dialing our own home number and hanging up while she was babysitting us, annoying her to great lengths as I recall. (That trick actually worked more than 20 years ago.) I remember the great difficulty of trying to wake her teenage self from a nap, and that she still sucked her thumb. I remember hiding behind a car and trying to spy on her and her boyfriend, Mark Felburg. I remember she dated a blonde guy named Rick, and I did not approve. I remember that she turned the kitchen sink hose on the neighbor kids in a fit of babysitting-induced frustration. I remember she loved Billy Joel. I remember when she left for BYU, and I inherited her old room and promptly went through her remaining things. (I was only 8, by the way-) I remember reading her diary from 6th grade and her writings of her boyfriend named Bo.

I have at least one letter to prove that she wrote me when she went away to BYU. Coincidentally, by the time I also went to BYU, we were in the same dorms, the same hall, and the same floor.
We started to become actual friends sometime in my adolescence. I wasn't always happy at home, being the virulent teenager that I was. She would talk to me as an adult, commiserate, and share insights on a future that would include marriage and family, disappointments and depression. She seemed not too distantly older than to me to remember the difficulties of growing up and figuring things out. It was during this time that I felt like she took a genuine interest in me and I began to get to know her, from different coasts.
Not too many years later I was moving to Provo to go to school, and looking forward to having my sister nearby and the further friendship that would ensue. BYU was much different for me than I expected, and it was a difficult transition in many regards. During my years at BYU, many momentous changes occurred, many, if not most of them hazardous. I ended up living in Utah for about 8 years, and some of these experiences included:
* moving into the dorms
* surprising home- sickness
* navigating the social maze of BYU and Utah cultures
* moving into my first apartment with 5 other girls, all of us strangers
* the terrible, sudden, and violent onset of my battle with depression
* Consequent church disciplinary action and the request to leave BYU
* Dating and breaking up with Timm
* Marrying Timm!
* Quickly conceiving our first child
* The death and burial of Lola Jane, our little girl
* The emotional psychotic pregnancy with Bella, 3 months after Lola died
* Going to the temple with Timm
* Bella's successful birth via planned C-section
* Learning to mother my daughter, in practice as well as principle
* Finally moving to North Carolina
The amazing part of this to me is that she was actually present for all of these events! (With the exception of Lola's conception...) And not just in a 'she was there for me' sort of way, although she was. She was the ONLY person physically present for all of these occurrences. These have definitely been the most life-altering and definitive markers in my life, and she was physically, as well as emotionally present. Besides all of these events, she has continued to help usher me through the torments of depression, lend a sympathizing ear to my woes of weight fluctuation (both of these being very closely related), and provide ultimate examples of motherhood, sisterhood, virtue, patience, steadiness, compassion, and friendship.

Despite 10 years between us and very different personalities, we share much in common. Even though our personalities are so different, we still have many of the same qualities, leanings, and affections.

In short, during the course of the 8 years I lived in Utah, Michelle became my best friend. As I grew up and became more of a peer and less of a child, we began to share common experiences and a closer relationship. I have loved the result of these sometimes tumultuous years, which have left me nearly 5 years married, pregnant with my 3rd child, still battling many of the same struggles, but always with my sister of nearly 27 years, and best friend of recent years.
Because of all of these experiences Shell knows me in a way that no one else does, and miraculously still loves me! It is truly a miracle and she has shown me the meaning of unconditional love, support, friendship, and the example of a better woman.

I love you my sister, my friend, and these 2,074 miles are punctuated today by your absence. You have forever earned yourself an integral place in my history, and my hopes of the continuation into our futures. I love you like no one else, and today I miss you in italic, highlighted, and capital letters.
Happy Birthday!!!

11 comments:

michelle said...

Wow! Cool post, Jess. I did love you so as an infant and toddler, I remember babysitting you, changing you, getting you out of your crib and you reaching for my chin to suck on. I realize I was not a very fun sister there for a few years when I was getting older and felt like I was always watching you and Ryan, who seemed less like siblings and more like "the kids". (and you know I haven't always loved kids!)

I'm so grateful that all of that changed as we both grew older and more mature. Our friendship is one of the best things in my life. And I miss you lots today, too -- I wish you and Timm were here playing cards and eating German chocolate cake...

2,074 miles, huh? Maybe we should have one of those dual photo blogs!

RoRo said...

Although my sister and I are only 20 months apart I understand what you mean, even though we were close in age we were totally different people and therefore really didn't get along growing up, my younger brother played dolls with me because she didn't want to! And it wasn't until after high school that our relationship started working and since then it has only gotten stronger and is now my best friend. Although I don't know what it is like to live close to my sister (I moved away a year after high school) I wish with all my heart that I could. But like you I am thousands of millions away and miss her everyday.

How are you doing? How is Bella? the pregnancy going? Moosey Girl?

Jill said...

This is such a beautiful post Jessie. You have such an honesty in your writing that makes it so heartfelt and real. I just love it. This is a great history of you two.

Mom said...

How sweet and touching it is for a mother to read such words written from one daughter to another.

I am forever thankful that the two of you are so close and so expressive one to another. I feel that way about my sister Denise too!

Lucky for the two of you that our main gift to Shell were two tickets to come to see you!! I guess we'll work out the dates.

Thanks for the finest words and memories. I love it that you love each other so much. It is a true blessing to me, your mother.

rmt said...

Fabulous post, Jessie. Like Jill, I love the honesty and emotion in your words.
So nice to see the beautiful pictures of you and Michelle! It is easy to tell that you are sisters when you're side by side. It makes me want to take more pictures with my sister!

Hannah said...

This is the coolest post ever. I love the relationship you have with Michelle, it inspires me and makes me more grateful for my sisters and wanting to enrich our relationships even more. You two are my model for a meaningful sister relationship.

charlotte said...

This is a great post! Sister relationships are so amazing, and especially when they include such life-making landmark events, like with yours and Michelle's. I love sisters and I love you and Michelle! Happy birthday Michelle!

Robin said...

Just so you guys know...you are ridiculously photogenic. And of course, great post (:

Claudissima said...

well, I don't know about you, but I am very happy to be a little related to you! a cousin from afar, but very happy of how you both love each other and are there for each other. What a great example of a sister. And what an opportunity in events to be able to get closer...WOw!! That is something to be there for a sibling. I was there for my brother...9 years younger...but he also did come to byu and I was already married and got to know him a little better...since I did to him, all the things michelle did to you...babysitting and stuff....it is fun to recconect again, as adults

Amy said...

Jessie, I love this post. You have such a way with words. Fortunately it's not hard to write kind words about Michelle. You two are so lucky that you've been able to find such good friends in each other.

Diana said...

Great post. it makes me miss my sister.

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