As I went to college, moved out, and then got married, she continued wanting to spend time together and I kept brushing her off. However, when she was 16 and I was away for my first Christmas far from family as I was now married, our family dynamics changed. With some family changes, our parents asked if Jen wanted to come spend Christmas with Ty and I. Within a few days the trip came together and no only did she come for Christmas, we all 3 ended up going on a missions trip to Mexico together as well. That trip was a huge turning point for our relationship. For the first time we did something together that was just our experience, not any of our other siblings. That started the beginning of a friendship that we now enjoy.
Two years ago as our family was returning from Europe to the US, we stopped for 5 days to spend new year with Jen in NYC. We had a GREAT week together, seeing all the decorations in her great city around the holidays. It was fun having her host our whole family and we really enjoyed it. Things like throwing snowballs in Central Park, buying 2014 light up glasses from the street vendor, mini trampoline party at sister H's...I'm so thankful for those memories we've made.
When we lived in the southern US she would visit us at least 1x/year-sometimes more. For that season we had a lot of fun attending soccer games, dance recitals, jumping on the trampoline and introducing her to our good friends and neighbors. Each visit we grew closer and made memories. In fact, she was the only one of my side of the family who was able to ever visit that home.
There are very few moments I look back in life and think "I wish I would have..." I try to learn from things and while certain choices have brought much heartache, I regret very little in my life. However, as I've formed a friendship with my littlest sister I realize those years I pushed her away are forever gone. I can never go back and do those things she asked and I said "no" to. In hindsight I know I missed out on an even closer relationship. We still don't have it perfectly easy. We still fight the hardest of any of my siblings. We also can spend hours laughing, talking, or texting stories through only emoticons.
This week I want to wish Jen a very happy birthday and tell her I love her! I'm thankful for family and the amazing one I've been given, and glad I choose to see that now!