Sending off my sister!

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Sheila, I was thinking of all the things I wanted to share with you as you enter this so very  important stage of life, and I realized how much there is to say. I put this off for a while because I have been feeling particularly emotional about doing it. However, seeing that it’s less than 48 hours until we “give you away to another family” in your traditional Acholi wedding(keny), I realized that there is no better time than this.

Two peas in a pod. Thick as thieves. Tight knit. Close as close can be. Of all the terms and cliches that describe our relationships, I think the word “sister” says it best. And when you get married on Saturday, I will cry tears of joy with you(you know how I get absolutely emotional over stuff like this!). Because that is what it means to be a sister.

Many people say that you and I have a strong resemblance. I have always wondered why though. May be it is because of our “fat cheeks”, our loud laughter or our tiny eyes. Or maybe it’s just because we’re almost of the same height. Or the fact that we’re always giggling and laughing and smiling. I really don’t know.

We have been very close from childhood and some of my fondest memories of life are the ones we made when we were little. From you and Maureen and Emmy walking to come see Jordan and I in Kireka, to our weekends and holidays in Bukasa and Namuwongo.

You have been a model child. Your tenacity for life inspires me. Also, your ability to stay calm in crises is admirable. You know how I “lose it” in the face of tough situations. You, my sister, remind me that I can smile through a storm. I love how you always took charge in Uncle Tony and Aunt Jean’s absence and took great care of Emmy, Maureen, and little Jona. They are more than blessed to have you as their older sister.

I love that we’re not just sisters, but also friends. I love that we socialize together, that we know each other’s friends.  To watch you grow into a woman, overcome the obstacles with which you were faced, and achieve so much, has been a joy. You were always the cute, intelligent, confident, creative and assertive (i.e. ‘cool’) sister, while I was the independent, quiet achiever (i.e. ‘geek’). Things haven’t changed much and we’ve grown to admire each other’s differences, become proud of ourselves, and each other.

I know you were not always lucky in love, and after all the losers, I’m so glad you found the real thing. Thank God you didn’t settle for anything less than you deserved; a kind, respectful, honest, good man. Bethwell is a very lucky man and you, a lucky woman. On Saturday, you are entering into a whole new life. You and Bethwell are no longer two, but one. Matthew 19:6 says “Since they are no longer two, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.” I’ve heard that when two people get married, their nuptials have a positive effect on their community. Like someone dropping a pebble into still water, your love sends out ripples of happiness to everyone around you. It brings joy to those who have already said, “I do” as they fondly remember their wedding day. It brings hope to those who are still looking for that special someone.
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I know that the lead up to this day has been stressful. I only hope that the lows of the roller coaster ride make the highs of the big day that much more spectacular. It’s an amazing feeling having everyone you love in one place, smiling and celebrating, because of you. Make sure you find time on Saturday (a few seconds is enough) to stop, look around, and take it all in. It goes so fast. It will be over before you know it and I can guarantee you’ll wish you could do it all over again.

I have such mixed emotions about what is to come later this year on December 13th. There is the excitement of your church wedding and the wedding reception celebrations. But this is tinged with sadness that though you will still be near geographically,in a way, you will be so far away. I am humbled to be your maid-of-honor. Though I was initially taken aback that you asked me to play this role, my heart has been filled with gratitude and joy to know that I will be at your side as you make one of the most important leaps you will ever make in your earthly existence. There’s no greater privilege for a sister than this.

I love you and I’m going to miss you, but I also feel assured in the knowledge that you’re in good hands.  I pray that your marriage will bring you lots of peace, fulfillment and joy in the years to come. And just know that when the hard times do come, as they inevitably do in every marriage, I am here for you, Sis.

Before my keyboard gets soaking wet from all the happy tears rolling down my cheeks as I type this, I will sign out with the blessing of St. Francis of Assisi:

The Lord bless you and keep you.
May He show His face to you and have mercy.
May He turn His countenance to you and give you peace.
The Lord bless you!

Congratulations and best wishes to you as you become a wife! May God bless you richly in the years to come.
With Mad Love,
Your book-loving, giggling partner-in-crime, crazy Sister.

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