A best friend is a sister destiny forgot to give you - Unknown
Each person has a unique way of viewing the world around them. The life stories of identical twins can be so different you would have no idea they were from the same family. Like most, I think my childhood was completely different than every other person in the world and because of that I have a very unique way of defining family and sisters.
I was adopted as an infant. My earliest memories are of playing with Amy, my best friend. She had crazy curly hair; she lived across the street and down two houses. Her mom and dad were pretty strict about their kids going to other people’s homes, so most of the time we were at her house. Thankfully, our parents were best friends too. When her folks were hanging out with my folks, we would be at my house. We always seemed to get into bigger trouble at my house than hers.
When Amy was not available to play, some of the other neighborhood kids would come to my house and backyard to play. My house was the “cool house” on the block. The fridge always had a pitcher of kool-aid and the pantry was stocked with kid friendly snacks and homemade cookies. In the backyard we had a swing set, sand box, and fun climbing trees. And out front near the mail boxes was the transformer box that was always ‘Home Base’ whenever we were playing Tag.
Amy and I were the youngest of the neighborhood crew. I’m a year older than Amy, which didn’t matter much back then. At the time, the biggest difference between the neighborhood crew and I was that they had siblings to play with when we were apart. And technically she was a sister to her younger brother and sister. I just had me, my stuffed animals, dolls, Mom, and Dad. I was the only only child on our street.
Because we lived across the street and were all besties, whenever her extended family got together to celebrate something, my family would join in too. I would address her Aunts & Uncles as if they were my Aunts & Uncles: Aunt Nina, Uncle Richard, etc. I think some of the cousins thought I was a real relative.
When I was about five and a half my dad came home from work and announced we were going to move across the country to Bremerton, Washington and then San Diego, California. We were going to be gone for about three years, so Mom and I needed to start preparing our friends for our departure. My immediate reaction was to demand that I be allowed to take Amy with us. I knew what it was to be adopted versus how most people got siblings. I couldn’t wait 9-months plus time for a baby to grow up to have a sister. I needed a sister immediately, and Amy was the only option. Amy was okay with moving with us, as she wanted to get away from her little brother. Amy’s brother had a baby sister now, so what did he need Amy for anyway? Plus, my folks never put us in 'time out' like her mom did. We were going to have the best time for the next 3 years. When we returned to Maryland, her parents could take her back, just in case she didn’t like living with us any longer. It was a brilliant idea!
Our parents were very patient when they sat us down to explain why it would not work. Amy’s parents loved her too much to let her come with us for three years and even though they had to focus a lot of their attention on her baby sister now, their love would not diminish for Amy. I didn’t fully understand why they couldn’t still love her if she lived with us across the country, but I realized I didn’t have a say in the matter.
As soon as Amy and her parents left, I demanded that I get brothers and sisters when we get to Washington. Little did I know that’s exactly what my parents had arranged. My Aunt and Uncle who lived in Washington were foster parents to a boy and girl and their little brother lived in another foster home not too far away. My dad met the older boy and girl first. When I met their younger brother he was perfectly fine playing Barbies with me, so I knew he was a keeper. The girl was a keeper because she came with a Barbie Dreamhouse, which was way better than the Townhouse I had. The older boy was fun and had all of us laughing a lot.
It was around Christmas time when the adoption was finalized, so to six-year-old me it was the most amazing Christmas ever! I got a slew of presents, two older brothers, and an older sister. So Amazing!
Up until a couple years ago, whenever someone would be nosy enough to ask me if I have any sisters, the first person I always thought about was Amy. Then I think about my legal sisters: the sister we adopted, my niece’s mom, the nine sisters-in-law I’ve gained since marrying my husband, my two step-sisters in Thailand, my brother’s wife, and my half-brother’s wife. With a little giggle I would say, “Yes I have a few,” and quickly change the subject. Trying to explain that many sisters becomes a much longer story than I usually want to share.
More recently, when I’m asked about having sisters, I just say, "Yes" and giggle a lot. I still think about my best friend first, my sister, and sisters-in-law, but then I think of my Every Heart Sisters. I’ve not had the chance to meet each Heart Sister in person yet. But know we are united by this group and its mission, which is a stronger connection than some biological sisters share.
If there is anyone in this world that you can 100% be your true unfiltered self with it should be with your Sisters. We are not all the same age, (by the way I think everyone I meet is the same age as I am and I often forget I’m 42 so we are all between 28-32 in my mind)! Not all of us are Wives, not all of us are Mothers, we each have different life histories and genetic makeup that shaped us into our individual selves, but when we come together we are united. Good days or bad days you can always be true to yourself with your sisters.
Sisters do not have to be Blood Relatives.
Sisters are women that
Elevate you up when you are down
Equip you for the future
Embrace you for being you
Care for you
Get excited when you get excited
Want the best for you
Encourage you to grow and evolve but never change your core values/being
Nikki Heinemann is a member of the Every Heart Sisters and has attended two annual retreats and been a sponsor as well. She is a proclaimed 'bag lady' - and our Thirty-One Gifts Sister who helps various sisters in the group earn money for charities through her hostess parties. She has an infectious giggle that everyone loves, and brightens the room whenever she enters it, each and every month.