Hey everyone! I hope your weekend is off to a great start! We have a busy weekend full of baseball games and hopefully visiting with my baby sister who is in town for a bachelorette weekend.
This is my third post of my new “Isn’t She Beautiful” series. If you are curious to know what and why of this series, just visit this post right here. I have also created a page with all the posts in order so that if you want to read them start to finish, you can. I will add to the list every week to make them easier to find. I hope you enjoy reading this series as much as I enjoy writing it!
Today, I have the special privilege of introducing you to someone who I have known since the day I was born. And I promise, I did not spell her name wrong in the title of this post.
Anjie, or Anjanette (hence the odd spelling) if you really want to make her mad (she’s always hated her first name), is my older sister. Amazingly, she is my only full-blooded sibling (I have one younger half-sister and two younger half-brothers-but they are my sister and brothers in the truest sense of the word) and we are as different as night and day. My younger sister and I were often mistaken as twins when we were young and even now if I introduce her to people, many will remark about the resemblance.
My older sister and I, however, could not be more different and most people are shocked when they find out that we are sisters. Anjie is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, vertically-challenged (ahem-you know you love me! ), effervescent, out-going (and out-spoken) kind of girl. As you all know, I am a dark-haired, quite a bit taller (though still on the short side myself), broody, introvert kind of girl.
Anjie has always been one of those people-you know the type-who can talk to anyone, at any time, about anything. She makes friends with everyone and has no qualms about striking up conversations with complete strangers. I, on the other hand, don’t share her confidence. I know you all will be shocked to learn that she was a cheerleader in high school. I…was not. Her career of choice? Sales.
Of all the people in the world though, despite how different we are on the outside, Anjie is probably the one person on earth who gets me more than anyone. She is the only one of my siblings who I actually lived with growing up. She understands our history and our family dynamics and where I come from and where I’ve been like no one else. We are incredibly close and I am just so, so proud of her.
When Anjie was about four years old, she almost died. I was just a wee lass in my mother’s belly when Anjie became very, very sick. At first, the doctors did not know what was wrong with her. She was throwing up blood and she was diagnosed with leukemia. I remember a few years back my grandmother telling me that was one of two times she ever saw my father cry.
Fortunately, though, the doctor’s initial diagnosis was incorrect. Instead, Anjie had something called haemolytic anemia. Haemolytic anemia is a rare and severe form of anemia caused by a high rate of red blood cell destruction. Severe haemolytic anemia requires prompt treatment, or it often proves fatal. Thankfully, the great medical team at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, despite the initial diagnosis, was able to react and treat Anjie quickly enough that she made a full recovery and has had no lasting effects of her illness to this day.
I remember my mom telling me a story of something Anjie did after they got home from the hospital. One day my mom was standing at the end of the driveway and Anjie came outside and her face was as white as a ghost. Understandably, my mom took one look at her and started to get really scared. She made her way up the driveway to Anjie, only to discover she had painted herself with white shoe polish. Hilarious? Oh yeah. So like her to give her parent a heart attack? Yep, that too.
Anjie and I are just under five years apart. We were inseparable for a long while. And then that girl hit puberty. And I wasn’t the cute, sweet baby sister anymore. I was the bratty, annoying sister who wanted to be her shadow and do whatever she was doing. For quite some time, we NEVER got along. Sure, there were a few bright moments in there where we supported each other and gave each other a shoulder to lean on. But for both of us, throughout our high school years, things were rather tumultuous. It was a really, really hard time for both of us and for our whole family.
If I was being really honest, and you know I am, I was a little resentful and a lot jealous. She always got along with everyone and I always struggled. Everyone loved her and there were a few times I was asked, “Why can’t you be more like Anjie?” I think Anjie was so happy-go-lucky, that our family was surprised when I was the polar opposite. I always felt like they favored her. I know now that wasn’t true and it had more to do with her not getting into trouble and me causing it.
She happened to graduate right at a particularly tough time in the life of our family. She went on a vacation to New Jersey right after she graduated…and she never came back. Meanwhile, my dad and step-mom got a divorce and in the blink of an eye we went from being a family of 6 to it just being me and my dad. I felt a little abandoned.
Of course, none of that was Anjie’s fault. And if I was in her position, I am sure I would have got the you-know-what out of dodge too. In fact, there were a few times where I tried to do just that. But in my immature, adolescent mind, I felt like I had lost the one person who protected me and understood me.
It wasn’t until I got married and started having children that we started to pick up the pieces of our relationship and seek healing, restoration and forgiveness. It sure wasn’t hard to do. I had kids and I wanted her to be a part of their lives and she was madly in love with them. It was simple really. And it truly, truly felt like coming home, finally, when we decided to right past wrongs.
Today, 10 years later, Anjie is one of my best friends. Though distance still separates us, she is one of the first people I call and turn to when I am struggling with something. We laugh and poke fun of each other. I make short jokes and blonde jokes and she makes jokes about me being called “Linda Blair” when I was younger. We don’t fight, we don’t argue, there are no grudges. It’s just easy.
I bet most of you don’t even know who Linda Blair is, and if you do you just got a deeper look into my psyche than you ever wanted to see.
It hasn’t always been this way and I am so thankful to God for bringing beauty out of ashes. Something that could have been dead and ugly, is alive and beautiful. I am so, so thankful for my sister and that my kids have such an amazing, amazing aunt. They are so blessed. I am so blessed.
The thing is-while a lot has changed, there is a lot that hasn’t changed. We are still as different as night and day. We still don’t look a thing alike or act a thing alike. She is still out-going and upbeat and positive-a definite extrovert. I am still a melancholy, pessimistic, introvert. She is Tigger. I am Eeyore.
I am a stay-at-home mom. She is a successful career-woman who makes a living selling airtime for television affiliates across the country. She works in downtown Philadelphia (when she isn’t working from home) and, though born and raised a midwestern girl, she is east coast through and through. I’m country. And she’s rock and roll. And I love how different we are. It’s what makes us so beautiful.
And she is a crazy sports fan. And when I say crazy, I really mean psychotic. I don’t even think fan is a strong enough word to describe her.
Anjie recently started her own weight-loss journey with Weight Watchers. She has lost over 25 pounds so far (and she has a lot less to lose than I do, as you can see from our pictures) and is doing so well. She has gone from a size 16 to a size 10. I am insanely proud of her.
The thing is-I was proud of her before. She doesn’t have to look a certain way or act a certain way for me to see her beauty. She doesn’t have to be a certain size, or a certain shape, or really change a thing about her to be beautiful. She just is.
Isn’t she beautiful.
And yes, I intentionally did not put a question mark at the end of that sentence, so grammar nazis, back-off (you know you are out there!). It wasn’t a question. It was a statement of fact. Isn’t she beautiful.
How many of you have a beautiful sister? Give a shout out in the comments! I am so blessed to have TWO!