That first year we had a lot of ice cream, played dress up, hung out at my parents' house. Autumn spent her 10th birthday going to one of my Choir Concerts!
We began our tradition of hanging out at Christmas. We hadn't been matched long enough for a sleep over our first Christmas, but we put up decorations and made sugar cookies.
She came to my Gma Jo's Family Christmas for the first time, and even though she was really quiet she enjoyed hanging out with everyone. In the Spring we spent time together at the Rec Center Spring Break Camp, swimming at the pool, and getting some use out of the trampoline in the backyard.
Sister Year 2: We got to have our first Christmas Sleepover. We made sugar cookies, decorated a gingerbread house, opened presents, watched Christmas movies and slept on the living room floor.
She endured another Call Family Christmas, and just seemed to be a part of the family by that point.
She was a 4th grader at Francis Willard and I was Freshman at Cowley. She went to the Rec Center Spring Break Camp again and we were thankful for the extra time together, because my school schedule was starting to interfere with our weekly dates. We had an end of the year slumber party and many more ice cream/Sonic dates. I introduced her to Camp Horizon that summer, where I was working.
I remember that she spent an evening with the counselors one weekend. In that one evening we went swimming, road around in the gator, and made a Walmart trip. She started to open up and talk to more people than just me, her personality really started to shine through. Board Games became a staple of our time spent together, anywhere from Jenga to Sorry we were always happy playing games and helping my mom decorate the house for holidays.
This was the year that we did High School Musical at Cowley, I thought it was stupid, but she was so excited to get to go backstage and meet all of the actors. Her 12th birthday fell during Arkalalah. We ended up with some awesome pictures with her in her Halloween costume, and me in my tiara!
Christmas of 08 she decided to share her Christmas sleepover with her sisters. It was a very selfless act and an eventful night. She decided after that she wanted to keep that one to herself from then on.
I had to Camp Sit one weekend and she came out and joined me. We took lots of silly pictures and enjoyed having Camp all to ourselves.
There was another Spring Break Camp and she decided she was getting too old for it. We went and saw Daric go to Prom and experienced the Health Fair at the Fire Department.
We got together and celebrated her 13th Birthday and my Dad's birthday with some Mexican food. That year she asked for a purity ring for her birthday. I was so proud of her!
There were many opportunities in my family to hang out with little ones, especially at Christmas with all of my cousins around. Autumn always had fun with them.
Another Christmas Sleepover, more cookies, the annual sister book, and flannel pajamas.
Autumn really enjoys band:
The Camp Horizon Staff went to a Stellar Kart concert at Cowley College and we just happened to run into each other!
We went ice skating at some point that year and it was a blast!
These two go in here somewhere, not sure where but just some more of the fun we had that year.
Sister Year 4-7:
You can't forget our sonic trips and matching hair cuts!
Year four things started to get more hectic, my school schedule was insane and I had moved on to Southwestern in Winfield, and even though it was only 10 miles away it seemed like light years sometimes. She was also now in Middle School, which brought in a whole different realm of school activities from band to sports. I came home as often as I could. That summer she got to go to camp as a camper for the first time and it was awesome to see her for an entire week having fun and loving the place I loved so much. She started running Cross Country and I teased her that she should have chosen a sport that was at least fun to watch! She always laughed but for some reason loved to run. We got manicures that year for her birthday and just enjoyed being girls together.
At this point our times together really started getting scarce. Between work and College I was getting really busy and her event schedule was keep her equally occupied.
January of 2012 things started changing. There were issues going on in Autumn's life that were big and painful. And there wasn't really a lot of ways to help her. School became hard, and the little ways she had been acting out over the years became more real. She started High School and struggled. She wouldn't turn her homework in and that caused her to fail a class and be grounded for the majority of the year. We emailed every single day because it was the only way I could consistently keep in contact with her. She got herself in enough trouble with school work that we did not get to celebrate our 6 year anniversary, no Christmas sleepover, no Call Christmas, no ice cream dates, or movie nights, and she never got to come see me in Hesston.
It was a frustrating year and half for everyone involved. I know Autumn was hurting and acting out in pain and needing something. She felt alone and like no one cared, most of the time. 2 weeks ago things changed again and she ran away, this time she was gone for more than 24 hours. I have spent the last two days/ two weeks doubled over in pain and prayer for this beautiful young lady who is now 15. She was found late last night, and as I spoke with her aunt this morning, who she calls mom, I know that what is best for her is a change of scenery. I don't know where she is going or what is going to happen but I do know that this move ends our Big Brother and Big Sister match. So as I sit her looking back on the past seven years, it just seems insane to me. We are 2 months shy of our 7 year anniversary and I'm not ready for this to end.
This young lady is such a part of my life, my family, and who I am. I have forgotten so many times to explain that we are not actually related. I mean she looks like me, so we might as well be related. But it is not blood that brought us to each other, or held us together all these years. We are much more than the current longest running match in Cowley County we are family. So this isn't over, and even though I'm battling those stupid thoughts that I failed her, I know that this match was made for a reason. Autumn has changed my life in so many ways. She has given me a purpose, helped me understand my calling, reminded me that life is not all about me, and that there is a bigger force involved in everything we do.
So these tears that are pouring out of my soul are for this incredible young lady.
I wish I could be with you right now. I wish that I could fix this for you. I wish that I could take away all of your pain. I wish you could have a normal 15 year old's life. I wish that life had been good to you. But I know that wishes don't come true, but prayers do. I have prayed for you so much since I met you 7 years ago. The past two weeks you have been constantly in my prayers. The past 36 hours it was all I could to function because the only thing I knew how to do was pray for you. I prayed that God would keep you safe and bring you back so you could get the help and healing that you need. You are no longer that little 9 year old that I took for ice cream that day. Your life has been all kinds of Hell on Earth and somehow you are still pushing on. I pray that you will receive whatever it is you need to heal. I pray that you can feel God's presence in your life and that you can feel all of our prayers for you. I know you feel alone, but you're not. We are all still here for you, but sometimes the best thing is to let someone go. So please, I pray, get the help you need, stop scaring us, stop running, and don't ever, ever forget that:
YOU ARE LOVED
YOU HAVE A PURPOSE
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL
GOD MADE YOU AND LOVES YOU
I LOVE YOU
You will always be my sister, you will always own part of my heart, you will always be part of my family, and part of who I am. I love you more than words can say. I leave you now in the only arms that can hold you, protect you, guide you, and heal you. Lord, please hold her!