Guest post by Shutterfly Fan Amanda Wendling
On the night my sister, Shay, got married, I talked to our closest friends and family about how I was – that evening – where I had always been, right at my sister’s side. As her maid of honor, I raised my champagne glass and toasted her, and her new family, with a promise that I would always be by their sides. But, as she came upon her 30th birthday while awaiting the arrival of her first child, I wasn’t by her side. Well, at least not physically!
My husband and I moved away from our home state of Iowa a few years ago to follow his job as it literally moved us from one coast to the other. The transition went smoothly for my husband and me. I continued my career in marketing by working from home and he began a successful career combining his unique experience of military, engineering, and law. But, for my sister and me it was a little harder. We had never been so far from each other, and our phone bills reinforced the distance we felt.
I began preparing for Shay’s birthday months in advance. I emailed and physically sent letters to family and friends. I asked them to put down in words, pictures, and quotes what Shay has meant to them and what they wish for her as she embarks on a new chapter of her life – motherhood, and the next 30 years.
For the next few weeks, it was all I could do to keep the secret from my sister as I compiled the responses. I was moved to tears as some of the words came in.
My grandmother sent the very first photo she had taken with Shay.
My other grandma scripted memories in her own penmanship on three full pages.
My parents reminisced about welcoming their first child into their world while my cousins reminded Shay of the funny times our pasts hold.
The photo book ended with words from her husband – “I love you and look forward to 30 more years. Twice.”
After scanning everything in to my computer, I laid out the many sentiments into a thoughtful book and had it printed. Before I wrapped it up, and sent it on to my sister, I read through it one last time. I quickly realized I needed to pack something else – Kleenex – because, as I said, I was sending this to a very pregnant woman!
In the end, the book was the beautiful means by which to give my sister an even stronger sense of self as she embarks on the beautiful – and challenging – journey that is motherhood. And, she commented, that as she was reading it, she truly could feel me by her side as I promised I always would be.
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