Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Because She Saved Me

I have an older sister. When I was four, I can remember her being my very best friend in the whole world. Then things changed. My mom decided my older sister should make her own friends, so she discouraged my older sister from playing with me and my friends. She began shutting herself in her room, shutting me out of her life. I was bewildered, angry, and hurt. I did what children sometimes do when they can't get attention in a positive way. I set out to make her pay attention to me by misbehaving whenever she was left in charge of me, which was quite often. She got in trouble for my misbehavior, and it only drove the wedge between us deeper in.

When I was five my refusal to obey her whenever she was left in charge nearly killed me. We attended a pool party, and Mom left to go get something leaving Darlene in charge. Before Mom left, she instructed me not to go into the deep end of the pool. I had been taking swimming lessons that summer and was confident in my abilities to swim in any area of the pool, but Mom told me no. She left Darlene in charge while she was gone, but asked the parents of my friend to look out for us, too.

I defied my mom's orders and took the water slide into the deep end. My swimming skills weren't strong enough to get me back to safety. I knew my life was in very real danger, and I struggled as hard as I could to keep my head above water but it was a losing battle. Just when I didn't think I had the energy to fight anymore, strong arms began to pull me to the side of the pool. It was my older sister. It was a crowded party and the adults were all on the sides of the pool, their backs to the water, talking and laughing. They had missed completely the drama. My sister, though, had done as Mom had instructed her to do. She took on the responsibility that shouldn't have been hers and saved my life.

When I was fifteen, my sister entered the Army. It was the year that Desert Storm broke out. They finished her basic training early so they could send her unit to support those already fighting. I was terrified of losing my sister. I was attending Catholic school that year, and had just been introduced to the rosary by our English teacher. Encouraged by the promises given in the rosary, I and Denise and another friend of mine started praying the rosary after lunch each day for an end to the Gulf War. As the weeks went by, more and more of the kids in my school joined us. By the end of the Gulf War, there were maybe 10 or fifteen of us regularly praying the rosary together. I never told her about this.

A year or so ago, my mother told me that while my sister was serving in Desert Storm, she received orders to take some supplies over to a hotel they were using as a bunker. At the very last minute, her commanding officer changed the orders and sent a friend of my sister's in her place. The bunker was bombed. The woman who went in my sister's place and the soldiers in that hotel all died. My sister was pregnant with my oldest niece. Had the orders not been changed, both my sister and my niece would have died that day. Furthermore, her two youngest children would not have been born. I firmly believe it was the fruit of all those prayers offered for her safety that are the reason she is alive today. Of course, it is only because she saved me that I was there to offer those prayers for her at all.

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