There's an old saying we all know that sometimes your friends become family. If you're really lucky though, your family becomes your friend. That's where my husband's cousin Kristin, my cousin, my friend, comes in to the story.
My husband and I have been married for 14 years. We met in December 1998. We overcame a long distance relationship. We overcame obstacles that arise when 2 people are madly in love but they come from different religions. Neither of these things was easy. But from the beginning, Kristin has treated me and supported me like a friend. Like family. And our relationship grew to cousins that are lucky enough to consider one another friends.
This past winter, I became quite ill with a stomach illness that has lasted over 6 months. I missed weeks of work as a teacher due to my illness, something that has never happened to me in my life. I was lucky enough to have an amazing young lady, Carolyn, as part of my 4th grade class. Carolyn is one of those kids who any teacher is lucky enough to spend each day with. She is bright, conscientious, hard-working, helpful, fun, and compassionate. I always knew how lucky I was to be her teacher. I guess I just didn't know how lucky I was until June. She and her family gave me a Giving Key Bracelet. I had never heard of this treasure before but it is something I will never forget. Carolyn's mom wrote me some of the most beautiful words anyone has ever said about me in a 2 page card. She mentioned the positive impact I have had on her daughter and how her whole family was fighting for me to pull through this strange illness. I felt such love and strength through this card, bracelet, and gesture. I cried and cried over the gift. I raced home from school, so excited to show my husband, our 2 kids, my parents, and my sister about this gift. I called Carolyn's mom, still crying, letting her know how much I loved wearing this bracelet, and how I couldn't wait to give the bracelet away when the time was right.
Last week, I had a doctor’s appointment at the Cleveland Clinic. I met with a doctor who gave me a diagnosis, treatment plan, and hope, as I wore my bracelet. I am thankful to say I am actually on the road to recovery.
It is time to pass this bracelet along to Kristin, my cousin, my friend. Kristin and I have shared laughs, tears, secrets, and memorable family time together. She made me feel accepted and part of the family from the very beginning, which means more to me than she will ever know. She showed me love and friendship and she accepted me for who I am.
Kristin is going through the fight of her life right now, as she closes one chapter of her life and opens another. I want her to have FAITH, like the inscription on the bracelet says. Faith that things will work out in the end. Faith that she is strong enough to get through this. And faith that there are people who love her and will always be there for her.