This week's gratitude challenge post is supposed to be about a specific family member. I am not taking the bait- don't want anyone to wonder why they didn't get their own post. So I am changing the rules a little bit, and sharing about someone who is like family to me.
I do not have a sister (and no sisters-in-law yet, either) but if I did, I imagine she'd be like my friend Jess. But with a different name. I tell her sometimes she's like the sister I never had, but she already has a sister of her own, so I feel a little weird saying that . :) She is everything to me that a sister should be, though, minus the being related part. I met her when she started working at my old library branch, a few weeks after I did, and I remember thinking "ugh, another Jessica. This might be weird. But I was here first and I already said I prefer to be called Jessi, so she has to pick another name." Which is such a silly thing to think! And now neither of us calls the other anything but Jess. We are Jess and Other Jess. Sometimes interchangeable (at least, to the patrons...and some volunteers...) We have so much in common, but not so much as to be annoying. Some people think we even kind of look alike- I have been confused for her on more than one occasion, and she has done the same for me. And we usually just pretend that the confused person is right, and pass along their greetings when we see the other one- like when her high school English teacher came in to the library and greeted me with "hello, Jessica! How have you been? How's married life?" I was able to answer "great! Going on five years now!" because she got married a few months after Brandon and I did! This kind of thing happens surprisingly often, and it greatly amuses both of us.
More important than the little similarities is the tremendous amount of support she has shown me over the years. What started off as casual work friendship has grown much deeper. She is my sounding board, confidante, and encourager. She gives me advice and listens to my problems and is pretty great at making me smile or feel better after a stupid day. When she transferred to another branch last year, I was so sad, and made a point to come see her once a week on my way to counseling, but it just wasn't as much fun as getting to see her almost every day. I am so thankful that the opportunity opened up for me to move to the same branch. I would have come here anyway, even if she wasn't here, but it's just like, the best bonus.
This week, this special person I consider to be as good as family had a pretty major event, and expanded her own family! Jess gave birth to a precious, blond-haired, round faced little baby on Sunday afternoon, and I'm glad that she gets to be a part of my life, too. I have already gotten her waaaaay too many baby presents by some people's standards (I could have gotten more) but I had a thought. People who have babies get lots of presents, but the presents aren't really for them, they're for the baby. And they're helpful and fun and cute, but still. It's not the same. And I am blown away by the strength and amazingness my sweet friend displayed by creating a human being and then bringing that tiny person into the world (after a very, very long labor.) I wanted to give her a little surprise to express these feelings- the "way to go, you are awesome" feelings, the "congratulations" ones, and the "I'm so thankful that you are in my life" ones. So I got her a pretty silver necklace, the kind that comes in the box with the cheesy pre-printed saying, and then threw in a bunch of these candies she likes that were on Easter clearance. Surely the sugar will be helpful when she has to get up in the middle night and take care of the kid, right?
So my thoughts for sharing this week are these: sometimes, your family can be made up of people you're not related to by genetics, adoption, or marriage. These people are a treasure and it's good to periodically remind them that you cherish them. And if you know a new mom, maybe you can bless her with a gift that is just for her, not for the little person who is keeping her up every night and spitting up on her every day. : )