Of all the people (not God – I’m talking human beings) in your world, who loves you best?
My answer is easy.
You may be shocked that it’s not my husband. It’s neither my kids nor my parents.
It’s my older sister, Krissie.
Those of you who know her are smiling now, for you, too, have been blessed by the beauty that she is. Before she was born, God graced her with a most amazing spirit, one she would need to conquer the many mental and physical challenges thrust upon her the minute she left our mother’s womb.
Never to marry, never to give birth, and never to manage a home of her own, Krissie faces each day hungry. All day. Every day. All night long. It never goes away.
When I stop and consider this, even as I type, my eyes well with tears. The sister in me wants to take it from her, and if need be, for her. I detest this thorn in her side, this tool God has used to make her into such a wonderful human being. Prader-Wili Syndrome is such a bitter pill to swallow, on top of losing an arm in an accident, yet sweet Krissie presses on one day at a time, looking forward to the next time she gets to see people.
People. She loves them. Every single one.
She feeds off her relationships. They motivate her like nothing else, even food. Without prejudice or pretense, she greets everyone around her affectionately, whether they be family or friend, waitress or cashier, doctor or janitor.
And it’s not just hello with her – she wants names.
She may be mentally challenged and not understand how four quarters equal a dollar, but her ability to remember names, addresses, phone numbers, pets’ names, birthdays, etc. astounds me. I’ve seen somber retailers and downcast shoppers break into smiles when she calls their name from across South Mall (where she walks with my parents daily) and asks how Rosebud and Rex are doing.
You would think she’s the Mayor.
Not to say that she is never hurt, but she gets over it quickly, eager to forgive and move on to the next hug, the next smile, the next friend she can love.
One of the things I missed most when she lost her arm was the way she would greet people. Whenever someone she knew would enter her field of vision, she would gasp, loudly call their name, clasp her hands together, and wiggle her fingers all around. Then, oblivious to most social norms, she would rush to their side, continuing to call their name with a wide smile, outstretched arms, and booming voice.
Today, the effect is the same, even without all ten fingers. Through the genuine, innocent, and wholehearted way that she loves, Krissie makes people feel important, valued, and treasured. Having grown up in the same house, I didn’t realize until I no longer lived with her how rare and precious her gift truly is. She has mastered something remarkable, something that many successful and intelligent people find themselves lacking the ability to muster let alone reciprocate.
Everyone loves her.
She was my secretary for about 18 months prior to Hannah’s birth. Twice a week, she would come to my home office and help me maintain my writing files for a couple of hours at a time. It was great. I loved having her, sharing that time together, enjoying our green pepper breaks and watching her use a pink highlighter to put big “X”s on the used side of my manuscripts.
Even though I now live roughly 90 minutes away, I miss being able to have her over for a banana pancake breakfast (yes, the kids would typically through a few chocolate chips into the mix) and a game of Dutch Blitz (she beats me). I miss scooping her up for an afternoon homeschool adventure or a spontaneous seafood suppertime. I miss my secretary.
I miss attending church with her, sitting beside her, giggling with her. I miss nudging her when she doses off in the middle of the sermon. I miss watching her clap her hands. Always offbeat, typically swaying a little from side-to-side, she would radiantly worship faithfully every Sunday, belting out the songs slightly off-key and clapping.
We’ve adjusted to a new norm, visiting back-and-forth when we can. The kids love going to visit Aunt KiKi and having her come visit us. As she ages, she faces more challenges, as do we all. I continue to pray for her, as well as my parents as they care for her. Many days are not easy, truth be told, but one thing remains.
Her unbridled, ardent, beautiful love.
I love you, my sweet Krissie. I look up to you, Big Sister, more than you know. You have set the bar high, far beyond anything I could ever achieve. You bear your cross well, so well that I sometimes forget you have it.
I look forward to spending eternity with you, my amazing sister, the best lover of all.