Back in NC this summer, I saw a cousin I haven’t seen in years.  We’re related because my “memaw” and her “granny” are sisters.

As children, we lived just over the hill from each other and were only a year apart.

Residing in such close proximity and being so close in age meant we grew up together.  In fact, we were nearly joined at the hip.  Usually where you saw one of us, the other wasn’t too far away.  Our relationship remained that way for many years.

Crystal was an only child and I had a sister who was nearly 4 years older and who had an entirely different set of friends.  We became very much like sisters and in fact, people who were unaware of our kinship thought we were.

We did nearly everything together.  The years saw us boy crazy, emotional messes, sullen teenagers, and we were ALWAYS scheming up some crazy way to either make money or get into mischief.  Being true to form, there were also arguments, fights, and times when we were really mad at each other.  But we always seemed to work through it.  Most of the time, we just moved on as if nothing had even happened.  Which was just fine with both of us.

We knew ultimately that we loved each other deeply and like sisters would always be in each other’s corner, no matter what.

Then we began to grow up.  Crystal started her family early and I was itching to get away and see the world.  Naturally, we began to grow apart.  Going weeks, months, then years without speaking.  Only getting updates from our grandparents who were and still are very close with each other.  Thankfully, on the rare occasions that we did see each other, it was as if no time had passed at all.  In no time, we’d be sharing “inside jokes” and laughing, knowing only “we” could understand what was transpiring between us.

The years have seen us through so much.  She’s rearing 4 beautiful daughters in NC and I’m childless living in Alaska.  Our lives turned out far different from what we thought they would.  And that isn’t a bad thing.

The miracles of technology allowed she and I to get back and stay in touch with each other over the past few months and it’s been wonderful.  We couldn’t wait to see each other when I went back to NC.  We didn’t get to spend a lot of time together but we were able to catch up a bit.  It honestly felt like a piece of my heart had been returned to me.

Like we really were sisters and had finally come home.

At the end of our visit, we both teared up and cried, hugging each other and promising to always stay in touch.  Again, the years of not speaking and not seeing each other dissipated as if no time had passed at all.  And we liked that.  I also believe we’ll never fall out of touch again.

She turns a year older today.  It’s a birthday I think about every year it arrives.  I’m so glad that I can wish her a Happy Birthday on this day and she’ll know.

So, Happy Birthday Crystal Michelle, my sister at heart, my partner in crime.  I love you very much and miss you even more.  I hope this day is everything you dreamed of.

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