I think there is nothing better in this world than having a sister. Especially one that you are very close to. Gretchen and I weren't ALWAYS BFFs. When I was in middle school my friend Abby would come over, I would lock us in my room so gretchen couldn't come in and play (yes, I had a mean streak for a bit...) But by the time we got to high school and college, we were inseparable.
Basketball, Volleyball, Choir, Tennis, traveling---we did it all together. The 2-year age difference never factored into the equation.
When I went to college I waited for 4 years until we could live together---on our own, in our own apartment---facing this world together. Lucky for us, we chose mid-town Memphis to be the backdrop of where we would stake our independence. What a perfect place! The Schnucks on Poplar was a far cry from the warm greetings at Brookshires. Bums in the parking lot begging for spare change. While pumping gas at the Tiger mart on the corner we would sit in the car, doors locked, as the meter ticked up to "full."
But, what kind of people would we be had we not been through this experience? Real life isn't always full of warm smiles and nice people and safe places. If you dont have thick skin and a sense of awareness you'll get eaten alive in the real world. But Gretch and I were lucky enough to face scary places together. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a sidekick like that.
Last night I was down in the ward hanging out with Josee. She is an 18-year-old girl who has been on the ward for a good 6 weeks--maybe longer. Josee had surgery on her foot to shrink her toes. She had a condition where her toes grew REALLY big for some reason--she had to have specially made shoes just for her right foot.
Josee is very much a typical 18-year-old girl. She sits with a crown on her head that she made from black and red construction paper (very regal). Underneath the crown is a camo bandanna wrapped around her head as well. She loves futbol and likes to sing. Last night we flipped through the Song Book and sang "All in All" together---a tune I havn't thought of in mannnny years. I'm thinkin' Sky Ranch?? LONG time ago.
"You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all."
Then something pretty great happened. This cute, petite girl walked in, dressed in all denim, holding a cell phone and a bag of fruit (clearly a visitor for one of the patients). She walks up to Josee's bed, and they immediately begin talking, somewhat yelling at each other, Josee's grabbing the phone from her hand, asking about food, what did you bring me?! etc. I ask Josee, who is this? Is this your sister?
"Yeah," she says, "my sister Josephine." Well hello josephine! One of the day workers approaches and tells me in english--they are twins. TWINS!! I am instantly jealous.
I always wanted gretchen and I to be twins.
Josephine sits down and she and Josee begin tampering with the cell phone for a while, trying to open it. Finally, the back plate comes off and the sim card pops out. Josee takes it, and puts it inside her wallet.
We sang a bit more and then it was time to play cards. Amy, fellow rockstar crew member who also hangs out with the patients, brought down some spoons and it was officially time to teach Josee and Josephine how to play spoons. We had a great time and they loved the moment where you have to grab the spoons as fast as you can. Josee was really good and kicked our butts.
Watching the sisterly-interaction between these two was delightful. It reminded me of home. It reminded me of gretch! Their casual banter, Josee reveling in the victory against her sister in Spoons---alll too familiar.
So here's to sisters everywhere---In Togo, in the US, and in far corners of the world. May those who do not have a sister find a friend who is relentlessly loyal, endearing, comforting and trustworthy.
Josee, center, with her crown on. Sister Josephine on the left, Amy and I on the right...playing Spoons.
"Having a sister is like having a best friend you can't get rid of. You know whatever you do, they'll still be there."