The editor liked my book! She liked my book! She said it would do well in several markets. It’s gonna happen! My writing career is about to take off!
I couldn’t wait to show it to my sister!
I held the letter I’d been so excited about just an hour earlier and folded it up several times, nervously. When it was about the size of half my palm, I shoved it into my pocket.
“Why don’t you want to send your book out to a publisher?” my sister asked. The strain of our disagreement showed on her ailing face. “If that lady who works in the writing field just said it was good enough and you could get it in more book stores, why not?” She sounded puzzled and confused.
I ticked the reasons off one one hand. “I don’t have any money now. I’ve already told people it’ll be coming out. It will take tons of time to query publishers to have one accept it–like a year!” I made it sound like it would take the rest of my life. And if felt like that, too.
“How much is it going to cost to self-publish versus going to a publisher?” she asked.
I had no idea.
“You don’t understand,” I said, tears coming to my eyes.
Why don’t you just support me?
The air felt thick with emotion when Linda came in from the kitchen where she’d been juicing some “green” (healthy) juice. “Are you guys at it again? Don’t feel bad. My sister and I squabble all the time!”
Her words lightened the atmosphere.
I rolled my eyes, as if to say, “par for the course,” but it wasn’t for us. My sister and I rarely disagreed and it hurt that we did now. Our heated discussion made me forget that she was sick. The confusion on her face told me our talk had taken a toll on her, too, on a day the pain was especially bad.
I sniffed and actually cried as I walked the five blocks to my family’s house. How could I forget she was so ill? The deeper truth hit me as I neared our driveway. What was I thinking? She did support me!
In fact, my sister had always been my biggest supporter.
Four years older than me, she was a senior in high school when I was in eighth grade. In the spring of 1974, I wrote a poem called FLOWERS. I had just learned how to write poetry with each line starting with one of the letters of the word. Each line described the topic. With the “L,” I wrote, “Loosely hanging on their stems. ” I was very proud of this poem. I gave it to my sister and she surprised me by putting it in the high school newspaper. I felt famous!
Six months pregnant and with a one-year-old in tow, she and her husband drove across the United States to see me walk across the university stage in Oklahoma to receive my Bachelor’s degree.
Three years later I was living and working in South America. I also served as the only single member of a missionary team. Some teammates felt I should support their local goals by staying in our host city and that I should skip any traveling. Flustered, I must have written my sister and told them all about the rift. Carolyn wrote a vehement letter defending me to the team from across the world. Her feathers had been ruffled.
As I lay in my bed that night thinking about our relationship, the list of ways she had supported me over the years grew longer.
After my college graduation, She pushed me to tailor-make my own job description in the community since there was nothing available in my field. With her behind me, I convinced a Catholic social service agency to hire me as their new receptionist, based completely on my knowledge of other cultures. I also became a volunteer English teacher, working with their refugees.
Whatever I attempted to accomplish, she helped behind the scenes. A couple times, I started drives to collect school books for third-world libraries. She helped me gather them up and even convinced one family to donate a box of encyclopedias to my cause. She loved being involved.
After a traumatic lengthy stay at a Dubai hospital, where I had lost both my twin daughters and nearly my own life due to the severest form of a complication called pre-eclampsia, she and her husband brought my mother to visit me. None of them had ever traveled overseas and yet, they stayed five days with me until they knew for sure I would be all right. My sister put that trip together at a moment’s notice. I still remember overhearing the night nurse say, “Amy’s family’s coming. Did you see her face when she found out?”
I tossed and turned as more instances of her support came to mind.
One day I came home from a school where I taught part-time but worked full-time hours, and headed straight for her house. My students had been playing tricks on me because of my hearing and vision loss. What was worse, the foreign students I was in charge of didn’t behave well. They were spoiled and disrespectful. My latest indignity was my new contract. Not only was it three weeks late, it stipulated that the school would only pay for the hours I actually taught. Neither did I find anything to indicate that I would be paid for my Master’s Degree qualifications. Clearly, the school had no extra money. Why had I worked so hard earning it if at this stage of my career, it wouldn’t count?
My sister took a long walk with me and said, “You really need to quit that job. You’ve looked at this job from the start as your ‘ministry,’ and if you liked it, that would be great. But it’s draining you rather than giving you joy. God has a better plan for you. Life is too short to stay in any job you’re not happy with. You won’t impact the students when you aren’t happy or committed.”
Her words made sense and I gave my notice the next day.
To replace that job, my sister spent days gathering brand name jeans, high quality baby clothing and whatever else she thought would sell on e-bay. We thought it would be the perfect job for me because I love the computer and was always on it, writing. We were wrong. I failed dismally. I couldn’t sell anything. But she never said, “Look at how much time I spent getting good bargains so you could re-sell them and support yourself.” That wasn’t her style.
Though I had dedicated my book to my sister, that night it suddenly didn’t seem nearly enough to show her my gratitude for all she had done for me.
Life is like that. The years suddenly come down to a few days and you realize that you wished you could say a lot more. But it doesn’t matter because that person really does know.
It must be in the DNA … Doesn’t Need Accountability.
A sister’s heart always knows.
Who has been your biggest supporter? A Family member? A relative? A friend? A colleague? A teacher? (Have to get that one in there having taught so many years!). Share in the comments below. Also, if this touched you, Like and Share it in your networks.