When my boys were 9 and 10, my sister’s girls were right into their teens – I did not envy Jean at that time. Boys are easier, was my mantra. I would repeat it time and time again, as I pulled them off one another, wrestling on the floor. Then, in a flash, my boys were in their teens and my sister’s daughters were in their mid-twenties, married, and at that point in time that every parent longs for – they regarded my sister as if she really did know what she was talking about. The tables turned. I envied my sister. She called one day bursting with happy news – both of her daughters were expecting, due dates one month apart. I envied her even more. Mothers of sons can never know that intimate bond mothers and daughters share, especially when they begin to have babies. My nieces chose loving, caring husbands who grew close as brothers themselves.
This family of my sister’s is a thing to behold. When Jean lost her husband, over a decade ago, in a tragic accident, those kids – daughters and sons-in-law - formed a loving, protective shield around Jean until she was ready to face the world again.
They are a unit of love and strength and it’s a good thing, too, because they are once more faced with tragedy. Jean’s youngest daughter has been diagnosed with a rare and fatal brain disease – incurable, untreatable, and, though the family is reeling, they will not falter. My sister says that, since her daughter’s diagnosis, the family has gathered every night for dinner, prepared by her oldest daughter and her husband, who live and work an hour away. The beauty of this family is that their faith and strength is not simply in one another, it is, more importantly, in God. There has not been any blame expressed; no anger directed at God. Why? What would be the point? This family knows well, it is God who helps us through these unthinkable trials; they need him more than ever.
When we are faced with difficult situations – tragedies – we need to focus on our blessings, we cannot be so completely dragged down by the events before us that we cannot see what God has given us…to help us through. He gives us one another; he gives us love and strength through each other.
My sister and her family know this and count on it and are blessed with it. I never really did envy my sister. Admiration is a better word. I have always admired her – her strength, her love, her faith, and how she and her family use God’s gifts - to grow. by Margery Frisch