When my children were very young I began praying almost daily that they would be friends with each other. I would tell them: “other friends are wonderful, but most will come and go throughout your life. You will always be family, so you may as well be friends!” Something must have stuck, because they have always been friends.
Joe’s sisters were so good for him. He had a serious, introspective nature; they taught him not to take himself or this life too seriously. They didn’t teach by verbal instruction, but by the way they related to him. Anna “taught” him to tap dance (she was two, he was five). As they grew up they joked around with him, and he couldn’t help but laugh along. They supported his passion for music and recording by singing backup or providing feedback (no pun intended).
They loved a lot of the same books, and Jamie loved reading aloud to them over the years. The three of them truly enjoyed each other and some of my very happiest memories are of all of them doing the dishes while singing, or just lounging in the living room laughing together. They did a lot of laughing.
As young adults, Jamie invited Joe to be involved in her small group. After his cancer diagnosis he could no longer drive; she came over every Sunday night to give him a ride there and back. When he could no longer lead worship for our private school chapel time (a role he cherished), Jamie offered to lead so he could back her up and still be involved. When she couldn’t do it because of work commitments, Anna stepped in.
If it sounds like we had a perfect life, we didn’t. Fatigue was my constant companion for many years, and I was sometimes irritated by their silliness. At times they neglected their chores or disappeared when I needed help with dinner.
But those two girls (young women now) gave Joe a priceless gift: a joy-filled perspective he might not have otherwise developed. And I am grateful to them.
My prayer continues to be: that they will always be friends.