Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Wind Beneath My Wings

Little did I know that when my family moved from California to Washington State when I was 11 how much it would change my life. I was very opposed to the move at first and threatened to stay behind. Well my parents, brother, and I flew up to Washington and got to see the house my parents were buying, the schools we would be attending, and even visited what would be our new ward. I got to meet my Merry Miss teacher Sister Anderson. I was warming up to the idea of moving. Plus I would get five acres to explore with my siblings, and the house was coming with some outdoor cats!

The move brought many challenges as well. Having lived my entire life up to that point in the city and now finding myself living in the country was different to say the least. Even phrases were different. Not everyone used proper grammar. It felt at times that we had moved to the middle of no where. What should have taken us fifteen minutes to get somewhere would take us an hour. Our ward boundaries were huge, and we got lost a few times before we started getting a feel for where things were and driving on country roads. We also didn't have blacktop to bike on. We now lived on a gravel road. In many ways it was like moving to a foreign land. Unfamiliar and different.

But the move brought a person to into my life who has remained a big important part of it 19 years later. There wasn't a moment that took place where Kari and I decided to be friends; it just happened. We never attended the same schools. I am a little over a year older than Kari, so when we entered Young Women's we would be together a year and then a year apart and then a year together and so on. So how did we forge such a lasting relationship?

My family didn't have family in Battle Ground, and Kari's family became our family. Our mother's got together every week. There were slumber parties. There were nights of playing Sardines. Though Kari stopped playing when my mom came out wearing a sheet. Kari almost ripped my arm out of it's socket. There were trips to the drive-in theater in Oregon. Girl's camp where we would make sure we were always in the same group. It wasn't hard to do since our mother's were leaders in YW most if not all of the time we were in YW. I was included in many of Kari's family trips camping and to Sun River. We connected, and it seemed as though we were always meant to be friends.

Kari was a huge blessing to my family as well. I had a strict childhood, and there were many rules. Kari had the guts to break a lot of them. My dad wasn't too happy about it, but our home became a more relaxed one. There were still rules, and compared to many families mine was a strict one, but there was now room to make our own decisions.

Kari was the outgoing one, and I was the quiet supportive one. I hate being the center of attention, so I was more than happy to let Kari take lead. We both got our Young Womanhood Awards the same night. She was there when I graduated from high school where I had to give a speech in front of more people than I care to even think about. I don't think Kari and I knew what my move to Provo would mean to our friendship. We hoped that we would still be close. Every time I made a trip home I saw her.

The following year Kari moved to Rexburg to start at BYU-Idaho. That is where she was when I got my mission call and when I was set apart as a missionary. But her family was present. I will never forget that night. Her father cried saying that he could never have picked a better friend for his daughter. I don't think there were many dry eyes after that. I talked to Kari one last time that evening before my family made the trip out to Provo. Kari sent me a teddy bear while I was at the MTC, one that still sits on a shelf. She wasn't physically present as I came to the realization that I was struggling with depression, but she was a constant source of encouragement.

From that point on it seemed that I would be home and she would be at school. Then she would find herself at home struggling with a health issue and I would be back at school. It became apparent that Kari and I both shared the same struggle with depression. And that was just the beginning of health problems Kari began to face and is still facing today.

Since Tom and I got engaged quickly and were planning on getting married a couple of months later I decided I didn't need to have bridesmaids. Kari would have none of that. It was something she had planned on for years, so she went with my sisters and they picked out the pattern and material. She wasn't only there on my wedding day, but she also made the trip out to the Open House in Provo.

I'm not sure when it exactly happened, but eventually Kari was not considered just a friend but a member of the family. She doesn't need to knock on the door. She just walks in just like the rest of us. If any of us are home for a visit you can count on it that Kari will be there. Our families share Thanksgiving and always have an Anderson/Ririe Christmas party.

I recently took a trip to California with Kari. We went to Disneyland and California Adventure with her dad. We had a blast. We bought matching Minnie Ears our first day. She bought the picture of us going down Splash Mountain because I raised my arms for the first time. The last time we had gone (2006) you could only see my knees in the photo. We bought matching Minnie T-shirts to wear our last day of our trip. It will be a trip that will always have a special place in my heart.

With the new change that has taken place in my life that side swiped me, Kari offered to come down to spend the weekend with me to offer her support. At first I was hesitant because I didn't want to spend the whole weekend venting, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have Kari's support. It was greatly appreciated. I'm not sure how I would have made it through sacrament meeting without her sitting there beside me.

On the way to church we had a conversation that we have had before about how I'm supposed to sing at her funeral. She is guessing that she will pass away before me. Now I can't even read music let alone sing well. I always tell Kari I better die first because she has a much better voice than me. The song to be sung was chosen years ago. I guess you could call it our song and that would be "The Wind Beneath My Wings."

As I listened to it for the first time in a long time I almost started crying. Because it is true that Kari in many ways has been the wind beneath my wings. We may not get to see each other as often as we would like, but we know we can count on the other person to be there for us in the best way that they can be.

Kari did you ever know that you are my hero? You are everything I wish I could be. You have proven to be a woman of strength and courage. You are a fighter. Even during the times where it seems like everything is against you, you charge forward not giving up. My life would have been so different if you had not been a part of it. There are too many memories that include you to even list. You are not only my friend, kindred spirit, but you are my sister. I love you!










Thomas said...

This post makes me happy. Not the post only but also the pictures. Kari has been a real blessing in my life as well as yours. She is a true friend and someone that you will always be happy that they are in your life.

Brittany said...

Not gonna lie I teared up a bit when I read this.... :) Kari is the bestest!!!

Anonymous said...

I cried when I read this too. It is so true, every word of it. We love you Kari and the rest of the Andersonfamily, everyone of you(even the dog) . You have been family to us through thick and thin. May it always be so.

Melissa, so beautifully written from the heart. It brings back so many wonderful memories. (Hard ones too, but that is what life is made of)

Anonymous said...

Ohhh soo many good memories! Especially Sardines! The pictures are a total blast from the past.

I have to DEFINITELY claim Kari as my sister. She made my recent vacation to Washington tons of fun! And she is such a good listener! I miss her when I leave just like I miss Mom, Dad, Melissa, and Britt!!

Love you all,


Anonymous said...

Oh and even Sawyer knows who Auntie Kari is!!!