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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Family and Friendship

I've written a lot about my family and how close we all are.  I've always been blessed with an amazing family.  However, I do think there are times when I didn't 100% appreciate all that I had.  Of course, I think all kids go through that at some point.  Especially as teenagers.  But, there is one part of my family that I feel extra blessed to have.  My brother and sister.  I am the middle child.  And, honestly, I act like the middle child.  A lot.  But, that's another story.  

As I grew up, I didn't realize how lucky I was to have them in my life.  I spent so much time trying to be just like them or comparing myself to them.  Even though I had no reason to compare myself.  I just put this pressure on myself to be just like them.  They are a lot alike and I would definitely consider myself to be the "different one".  I wasn't overly interested in playing sports.  They are both athletic.  And coordinated.  Me, not so much.  And I always felt that, for some reason, that made me not as good as them.

As I've gone through this life changing journey over the last year and a half, I've had to do a lot of soul searching.  A lot of healing on my own.  I've had to figure out that it's okay that I'm the "different one".  That there's absolutely nothing wrong with me.  That I can be proud of who I am.  What I've accomplished in my life.  That my interests and talents make me who I am.  And I have finally come to the realization that our family would have a missing piece without me.  Here's a couple of examples - 
1.  I'm not sure there would be many pictures of all of us.  
I am known as the photographer of the family.  
2.  Who would remember everything from our childhood and beyond?  You'd be amazed at everything I remember.... I've been called rainman before.  I think it's an appropriate title... :)
3.  Who would be the "fun" sister, cheer on my siblings as they coach their soccer teams, 
remind them about birthdays, anniversaries, etc?  

As the middle child, I don't remember a time when either Andy or Angie wasn't an important part of my life.

Andy - I've read in my baby book (years ago.... but there's that memory of mine) that I used to follow you around when it was just the two of us.  "Mandy and Andy".  Cute, huh?  From very early on I must have known that you are the best older brother in the world.  You care about me in a way no one else does.  You've always been there to support me through everything.  I leaned on you a lot throughout our childhood.  I depended on you - probably more than I should have.  I always wanted to be just like you.  You have so many admirable qualities.  You are the perfect mixture of mom and dad.  Smart, patient, hilarious, responsible, respected by so many, friendly, easy to talk to, etc.... I could go on.  But it would take me a very long time.  You were a huge part of getting me started on this journey.  I think back to a year and a half ago.  Me crying on your couch at 1:30 am while you and Kristin just listened to me.  I was so lost.  I can only imagine how hard that was for you to see.  You'll never know how much I love and admire you for always being there for me.  Without your help and willingness to connect me with Renee', I don't know where I'd be.  And I certainly would not have found a couple of the most amazing friendships in my life.  Cooper and Chloe are so lucky to have you for their daddy.  I am so thankful to have you in my life as my big brother and my friend.  I couldn't imagine going through life without you as such a big part of every day.

Because I have a brother, I'll always have a friend.

Ang - Where do I start?  Obviously, I don't remember much about the early years.  But, I do remember sharing a room with you on Hazelgrove and listening to you talk.  Every night.  Always entertained me.  I remember being both excited and sad when we moved to Fallbrook and got our own rooms.  Cue the beginning of many years of "sneaking" out of our rooms and talking.  We really thought mom and dad didn't know!  We definitely had our battles growing up.  But, as you got older, we became better friends.  We still fought (what sisters don't fight).  But, I ALWAYS knew I had a friend in you.  That you had my back all the time.  And I still know that.  As I was talking to some people recently about my journey of the last year and a half, I said that I had kinda pushed you away without even realizing it.  I didn't even see what I was doing.  I do now and I am so thankful every day that you stuck by me and never gave up on me.  You've been a huge piece of my support system throughout this adventure.  I trust you and value your opinion more than you'll ever know.  You, too are a wonderful combination of our parents.  However, I will say, you are almost mom's twin.  You two are a lot alike.  And that's a good thing.  You are so open, friendly, smart, patient and have such a big heart.  Emma is so lucky to have you for a mommy.  You'll never know how immensely grateful I am that God decided to give me a sister. You. My lifelong best friend.  I can't imagine life without you.

There is no better friend than a sister.  
And there is no better sister than you.

My siblings are one of the single greatest blessings in my life.