LONG-DISTANCE SISTER

LONG-DISTANCE SISTER

From Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul

Long-Distance Sister

A true sister is a friend who listens with her heart.

Anonymous

Vickie’s arrival was well-timed.

My husband had returned to our home in Colorado to pick up the pieces of our lives, resume his job and parent our youngest son. Now, I would continue the bedside vigil of our twenty-three-year-old who lay comatose, wasting away in a Los Angeles trauma unit.

I was all alone, alone with Kyle.

Offers to help flooded in via phone calls, letters and e-mail. Caring friends and loving family. But there was only one person I wanted, one person I needed: my friend Vickie.

A deep-seated desire for her support during this experience overrode my reluctance to impose on her. More importantly, it transcended my dread of dealing with the freshness of her shock and emotions at seeing Kyle in his vegetative state. I loved her with all my heart for her sacrifice and willingness to come.

Oh, I understood her silent fears; as a small-town Kansan, she was even less travel-wise than I. This trek to California meant her first flight—alone. It required a complicated layover and plane change in Dallas. And she would be met by a stranger at the Los Angeles airport.

For me, Vickie would cancel her piano students. For me, she would postpone her church and community obligations. For me, she would set aside her husband and five children.

For me.

For me and Kyle.

And I was too selfish to turn her away. I needed her.

Our thriving twenty-four-year friendship was cemented by a history of combined convictions, confidences and confessions. State lines had separated us. Crowded schedules had fragmented us. Bustling baby years had isolated us. But we never let that interfere. Instead, we nourished our relationship long distance, treasuring late-night phone calls, stolen weekend visits and sporadic letters.

“What if,” Vickie once laughed, “we had lived next door to each other all these years? With squabbling toddlers, barking dogs and competing athletes, we might never have stayed friends.”

But we both doubted it.

A deep sisterhood bound us; a mutual love and respect connected us. Irrevocably.

Vickie was the kind of friend who didn’t notice the dust on the table but instead remarked on the daisies in the vase. I craved her vision, her enthusiasm and her optimism.

Vickie would be helpful and hopeful.

I needed both.

Only to her could I expose Kyle in his fragility. In fact, it was important to me that she—who had known and loved him since birth—share this stage, see him like this. Then, come what may, she would know how far he had traveled.

Come what may.

In the darkest hours of night, thoughts and fears swept over me. After all, we were dealing with traumatic brain injuries, collapsed lungs, pneumonia and shattered bones. Images of the future staggered me.

What if . . . ?

What if . . . ?

What if . . . ?

I couldn’t even spell out my worries and imaginings because what if that made them come true? Such a juvenile, superstitious thought. I knew it, but I couldn’t seem to help it.

Yes, I needed someone to rely on, someone to share my load, someone to understand my mother-fears. I needed a female friend.

I needed Vickie.

Suddenly, I felt a deep kinship with the pioneer I once read about who found herself, at the end of her trek, on the Great Plains—pregnant, heartsick and isolated.

Alone.

My plea joined hers as she cried into her diary, “I don’t want a doctor. I want a woman.”

Carol McAdoo Rehme

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