In order to tell you about this next woman who has made a huge impact on my life, I have to be very honest and vulnerable about a part of me that is ugly. Sharing this with the world can be a little scary for me but it is important you know the whole story…. For then you will understand how much this woman means to me.
I am the oldest of nine fabulous siblings. The next closest girl is my sister Kazree. When we were young I was a terrible big sister. I would yell at Kazree, hit her and I even drug her up the stairs once by her hair (Karma came around and kicked my ass on that one years later…. But that is a story for another day.) I wasn’t conscious of how mean I was until the day I sat in my room wishing I had an older sister when I was about twelve years old (I think)….. There was a flash of enlightenment and I realized I wanted a big sister but I would NEVER want an older sister like me. That day I changed my ways. I became the big sister that I would WANT to have.
Most of my younger sisters were young enough that this worked and I became a hero to them but Kazree was old enough that I wasn’t able to just change and all was forgiven with her and for most of our young relationship she was always a little wary of me… and rightly so. She also was pretty mad that I went away to college and left her with all the responsibilities of the oldest daughter so you can see our relationship was a bit strained when we were young.
That all changed when I moved home for a brief time when Kazree was in High School. My family had moved to Portland and I needed a safe place to land after a few tough years. Kazree was going through her own life challenges and I did my best to show up for her. I wanted her to know she could trust me. I know it could not have been easy to handle the situation she was going through but she is an amazing athlete…. Not only physically but mentally and she championed her challenge, turning it into an opportunity for her own growth. I look back over her life and what she has overcome. I completelyI admire her tenacity which she shows in all the challenges she is faced with throughout life.
After we had both been married for a while we found out we were pregnant at the same time. This was such a great experience to do together. This was my first baby and it was her third so she guided me beautifully through the process. I would call her during the day and we would sit on the phone for hours…. Just doing whatever household chores needed to be done while we chatted…. And that is when we became best friends. When the babies arrived we did everything together. We had play dates at the park, went downtown to the fountain to play and celebrated birthdays and holidays together. Our kids became best friends with each other and maintain that beautiful friendship still.
My kids and I were heartbroken when her family moved to Montana but we knew we would be visiting a lot so we shifted our thoughts to excitement for what this new adventure would hold for all of us. The memories created in Montana are priceless…. Hiking, horseback riding, jumping on the tramp and sleeping out under the stars. We found that our families would remain close through any of the moves and all the years. Even when we haven’t seen each other for a while, we just pick right up where we left off as if no time has passed at all.
When Kaz moved to North Carolina about ten years ago we sort of lost touch. We would call each other once in a while and catch up but we didn’t seem as close because the calls were few and far between. Then we discovered Snapchat! I know there are plenty of negatives about Snapchat…. Believe me…. I’m the mom of 6 boys…. I know exactly why you would want pictures to disappear…. But we’ll leave that bias aside and let me tell you about the magic that we found in Snapchat. I started snapping Kaz every day, just random pics about my day with an “I’m just thinking about you” and she would snap back. These snaps only took a moment but it made all the difference in rebuilding a fantastic connection. We didn’t have to carve out a few hours for a phone call …. Which it seems had been the main problem in our busy lives. These quick little love touches gave each other a little peek into each other’s world and soon we were right back to being best friend sisters.
When my dad died I realized just how fragile life was and that I couldn’t put off letting my loved ones know how much I loved them. I had put off visiting Kazree with various excuses. She loved North Carolina and had built an amazing life for herself which I had seen through our daily snaps and now I knew, I had to go see her in HER world. I booked a ticket shortly after my dad’s memorial and flew out to see my sis.
We had such a fabulous time. My other sister Audra came too and it was so good to hang out as adult sisters. In the midst of my grief, I was surrounded by those who knew how to love my broken parts. Not too long after that trip, Kazree came out to Utah for a visit. We had so much fun going to all our childhood places and then creating new memories. When an impromptu family reunion came together last year, I sent a snap to Kaz telling her she needed to be on a plane Labor Day weekend so she could drive up with us. She made it happen. What a fun road trip that was!!! It was also the first time in almost ten years that our entire family was together at one time. What a party it was and it wouldn’t have been the same without her!
Over the years she has taught my boys how to wakeboard, checked in on them through their various sporting adventures and has given them fabulous coaching feedback. She has flown clear across the country to support their games and every time I am absolutely overwhelmed with emotion of how much she loves me by loving them.
At the first of this year we both made it over to Hawaii to visit our sister and my son Jake at the same time. We made the absolute MOST out of a week. I treasure all the memories we have been able to create over the years….. We’ve done some BIG adventures…. But it is the small daily “check ins” that I like to call love touches that truly have built a beautiful relationship with my sister. We have created a safe space each day to share how we’re really feeling…. Honestly and without judgment. For me this is the greatest treasure I can have in a relationship.
Even though I’m the oldest, many times I feel that Kazree has been my Big Sister. She has talked me off the cliff, cried with me and held my heart and hand…. Physically and energetically from thousands of miles away. She is totally the big sister I wished for when I was little. She has taught me so much about determination and discipline. I admire her athletic gifts and her dedication to her children…. She continues to GIVE even when it is difficult …. And I have needed to see THAT, THAT is the inspiration for me!!! Our younger years started off a little rocky but she has gifted me with forgiveness…. one of the most generous gifts a person can give and I never take that for granted. She is truly a beautiful human who gives with all her heart!
I love you so much sister. Thank you for the safe space to be seen, heard and loved EVERY DAY!! Because you are my sister and also my dearest friend…. I have been changed for good.