I am not yet a mother, but I am an auntie.
My sister’s kids mean the universe to me, because saying they mean the world to me isn’t enough.
My heart strings tug just thinking of them and the love I feel. How can I put it into words?
My older sister, Angie, is 9 years older than me. “She was my full-time babysitter” is what I always tell people, but she was more than that. I thought she was the most beautiful, coolest, wisest girl there is. The way she idolized Madonna in the 80’s and 90’s is the way I looked at her. Seriously. She was gorgeous and always so fashionable. She is still beautiful but now, I mostly admire her character and her heart. Angie is an amazing mother and now a high school teacher. She says she got to “practice” on me when people say what a good mom she is.
I believe that everyone experiences suffering in some way during their lifetime, but I’m not sure why my dear sister seems to have had such an especially challenging journey. They say God only gives you what you can handle, but some of it just isn’t fair. I guess they also say, life isn’t fair, so touché to that. I’ll save the specifics for her to share with you herself some day, but one thing in particular (the worst suffering for our family) is what leads me to the point of this piece. She lost her oldest son, my nephew Kendall, suddenly one morning in 2010. He was 15. It was a shock and a tragedy to us that still scrapes our hearts and clouds our minds, but with love somehow we have lived on.
Kendall left two younger siblings behind when his 15 years on this Earth came to an end. Bryan is his brother, 4 years younger than him (he’s now 15 himself) and Anya is his sister (another 4 years, she’s now 11). Now, I know I am bias, but Bryan and Anya are amazing kids. They are so sweet, loving, smart, fun and make me proud every time I see them or hear from my sister what they’re up to. It is an honor to watch them grow up and to get to be their auntie who they know loves them with all my heart and will do anything for them. I am so grateful and adore them so much.
Today, I stopped by at their house for a visit after work. My incredible sister and her on-board husband, T, just recently became foster parents to two high school students, a brother and sister, Justin and Alexis, who have walked a rough road themselves and needed a stable loving family to live with. This is the kind of person my sister is. I wasn’t surprised a while ago when she told me she was going to soon have foster kids. So, today I went over to visit the whole family. When I walked in, Anya and Alexis (her new, and only, big sis) were in the dining room to greet me. Alexis called me “tee tee” short for auntie and then said “Is it ok if I call you tee tee instead of Sara?” I smiled and said, “Of course, honey. I love it.” Bryan and Justin were upstairs, probably playing video games according to Angie.
Now, I could go on and on about Angie and T and Bryan and Anya and Alexis and Justin, and I have so many dear memories of Kendall… but as I sat down to write about Anya’s handwriting tonight, you needed some background to understand this:
Anya was wearing her junior high gym uniform this afternoon because she had track tryouts after school. On the front of the blue t-shirt the name of the junior high is printed in bright yellow letters. Below that, there’s a yellow rectangle for the students to write-in their names with a Sharpie.
As I looked at that familiar bubbly handwriting, I felt Kendall there with all of us. I had to tell her.
“Anya, your handwriting looks like Kendall’s handwriting.”
My brother-in-law, T, (who remembers his son’s handwriting) nodded in agreement.