The “Girls’” trip

No boys allowed. Not even Clark

I always question people who say they are not close to their siblings. Like, why? I’ve already shared my love letter to my brother, but I also have two older sisters, and I talk to them all the time. Every summer, my mom, 2 sisters, sometimes my sister-in-law Lakon, our combined 4 daughters, and I go on a beach trip. We first started this tradition when my eldest sister was in high school, and then it was interrupted for a few years while she and my other sister were in college, med school, grad school, etc. Basically they were too busy building their fabulous lives to go on vacation with me. Those bitches 🙄.

The girls’ trip. No boys are allowed. Not even tiny ones. I mean, think about it. Guys always want to do things on beach trips instead of just relax. Also chicken salad and fruit aren’t enough to satisfy them for lunch. So, basically they aren’t allowed to come and poop all over our trip. Seat’s taken, you can’t sit with us, bye Felicia 👋

Anyway, when Katie (#1) was pregnant with her first baby, we started up the tradition again. We stayed in a hotel on that trip, and Katie was all, “I’m cool, no worries. Y’all can watch TV while I sleep. It won’t bother me!” Five minutes later, the room next to us was being a little loud. She shoots up out of bed, grabs her slipper from the floor and begins smacking the wall, “BE QUIET!!!” She promptly lay back down with her eyes closed. Anna (#2) and my mom and I exchanged glances, turned off the TV, and wordlessly went to sleep at 7 pm 🤫. No one wanted that wrath (or slipper) directed at them.

We’ve since mostly stayed in condos, occasionally hotels, and most recently at my parents’ new beach house. We eat chick food, are supremely lazy, and laugh a lot.

One year, we were staying at a condo in Gulf Shores, and my niece chunked her baby doll’s pacifier off the balcony. She then cried and cried for it because toddlers are rational. We looked for ages, but never found that one. Then there was the year that Lakon had to dig a belly hole in the sand to accommodate her very pregnant belly. Then there was the year Katie took a muscle relaxer for her janky neck before playing cards and just got stupid. Probably the only time I’ve been able to beat her because she was literally moving in slow motion. I’ll never beat Anna. She’s a freak and can play a whole deck. Ugh, and last year I was about 11 weeks pregnant with Clark, and Darcy wasn’t walking yet. Toting her and our beach gear while I was miserably ill was awful, so Anna and Mom did the grunt work on that trip. Also Darcy was basically just miserable on that trip. She was demanding (surprise, surprise), and hated the beach after about 30 minutes. We tried to make it more bearable with a baby pool for her to play in. My sister Anna had to blow that bad boy up and ultimately it did nothing to convince Darcy that the sand and water were not the devil. Anna still bitches about that.

This year, we had our first stay in my parent’s new beach house. It is just beautiful, and I swear we had the best time! I should mention that Katie is a gourmet chef. Seriously, she is amazing and everything that we ate was sublime. My favorite was a sea bass dish she made. Also she mixes fabulous cocktails, and I was the only one to benefit because Anna is pregnant and my mom doesn’t drink at all. Katie and I also took the kids crabbing one night, and it was hysterical. Katie’s daughter is a beast at catching things and crabs are no exception. Anna’s kids–not so much (God bless ’em), but seeing all of them chase after those crabs was hilarious. We then took the golf cart off-roading. Not exactly intentionally, but memorable all the same. I really haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Anna has had a difficult pregnancy and doesn’t need to carry anything but herself, so Mavis, Katie and I carried all our gear to and from the beach each day. This wasn’t a problem until one afternoon where Darcy decided she needed to be carried across the sand. I told her, “No.” Cue the full-on meltdown. She screamed from our spot on the beach all the way to the boardwalk. We passed by a tent of people laughing and they pointed to her and said, “Does she happen to be about two?” “Uh, yes. How ever could you guess?” They just laughed and said, “Darcy, what’s wrong?” Darcy cut them an evil look and continued to sob. But guess what? The next day when I told her no, she didn’t cry (as much). So, I’m counting that as a win. 

My mom plans all these precious parties for the girls during the trip. She picks a theme for every night and it was just the cutest thing. The first night was a barn party, the second, a unicorn party, and the final night was a pink pirate party complete with a scavenger hunt. It was so much fun! The adults had just as much fun as the little girls. My mom really is amazing. She cares about all the little details and makes everything so special. She’s always been that way, and I strive to make similar memories with my babies.

Ladies, if you weren’t so fortunate to be born into a girl-tribe, then you’ve gotta make your own. Pick your friends and hold them close. Go on the beach trip. Help your girl out when she is big and pregnant and basically useless, and forgive them when they’re being a bitch (never me). Cook the amazing food and laugh at each others kids when they faceplant during a tantrum. Go off-roading with the golf cart. Make fun of each others hairy arms and talk about everything from Jesus to snissing to sex and all topics that fall in between. You can google snissing if you don’t know what it means, but if you’ve had a child then you’ve experienced it.

If you were born into a girl tribe, then you are lucky. Super lucky. Foster that relationship and love each other hard. Just because you aren’t close now doesn’t mean you can’t build that relationship into something worth having. Look, I love my sisters, but I definitely still argue with them. For instance, two weeks before the beach trip I told Katie she was uncompassionate and sucked at being a sister. Three days later, I apologized and told her that I knew I was actually being crazy, but she still sucked and was old AF. It’s all about balance, you see. I love these women so much. I mean, they’re control freaks and judgmental and not nearly as funny as I am (God bless ’em), but I love them and couldn’t imagine my life without them. I am #blessed.

Kidnapping a grown man

Ben’s 30th birthday

I’ve been quiet on my blog lately. Why? I don’t really know other than I haven’t particularly felt compelled to write. I’ve had enough adventures and happenings and thoughts to fill at least 4 blog entries, but I just haven’t had the itch? Maybe Raynershine’s days are numbered! 🙀

Anyway, in early May, I decided to begin planning for Ben’s 30th birthday. I had exactly zero clue as to what I should do. There are all kinds of ideas available on the world wide web: surprise cancun trips, surprise party, blah, blah blah. Ben is not what I would call the party type. He’s the spend quality time with family type. I even asked him offhandedly what he would like to do for his birthday and he said, “I don’t know. Nothing. Hang out with you and the kids.” Yeah… not giving me much to go on, dear!

So I decided to plan a getaway. I talked to my mother-in-love and scheduled her to take both kids for the night and booked a cottage in Ocean Springs. I asked one of my sweet Phi Mu sisters, a Gulf Coast native,  for her suggestions on what to do, where to eat, that kind of thing. Following her suggestion, I made reservations at a restaurant in nearby Biloxi, and I told Ben that he needed to come home early on the Friday before his birthday. And that’s as far as I got for a while. Ben’s starting of a new job combined with the end of the school year was even further complicated by Clark’s medical scare and kept me busy. So, before I knew it, the getaway was only 2 days away, and I didn’t even have anything else planned. Yikes. So, I decided that on Saturday we could have breakfast in Ocean Springs and tour Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, before heading back to Baton Rouge.

Friday morning arrived and I dropped the kids at daycare, got gas in the car,  packed our bags, put them in the car,  went on a quick run, came home and showered, and then panicked. Because I didn’t have a card or gift or anything cutesy to tell him where we were going and I needed a new dress because I hated everything in my closet and this idea was basically a stupid disaster. He was going to be home in an hour and there were no lunch plans, or any plans at all besides showing up at our cottage and our dinner reservations at seven. This is his 30th birthday, y’all. He just graduated from his third and final degree. I am trying to do this thing right! You see, fortunately or unfortunately, Mavis is my mother 😜, and I just couldn’t not have all these extras. I ran to the grocery store and picked up champagne, glass-bottled Cokes because they are way cuter (obviously), cheese, and fruit. I bought a funny card with naked old people on them (those always make me laugh) and a new dress.  I raced home and got out the picnic basket she gave us on our wedding day, packed it up and placed the card on top. I then “cleaned” the house with a quick once-over and waited.

Ben walked through the door, saw the basket, and smiled, saying, “What’s all this.” “Read the card.” The card explained that he was henceforth kidnapped and would be allowed a short bathroom break before following me to the car. He looked a little confused and said, “Wait. We’re going for the whole night? What about the kids?” “Your mom is watching them.” “Wow. Okay. Let me pack!” “Your bags are in the car. Move it! We’re leaving.” “Wow. Okay!”

And we took off to Ocean Springs, snacking on fruit and cheese and those bottled cokes. We got to our precious cottage, put our stuff away and then walked downtown to the stores in Ocean Springs.

There were so many restaurants, bars, and boutiques. The downtown area is just beautiful with large live oak trees framing the shop-lined streets. We grabbed coffee and just enjoyed talking to one another without diapers needing to be changed or babies needing to be fed. It was incredible, and it struck me just how important this time together actually was. I could look at this man and remember the boy he was when we first got started. The first birthday we celebrated as a couple was his 23rd birthday. He had just moved to Michigan, I was still in nursing school in Mississippi, and everyone said we weren’t going to “make it.” Now we were hand in hand on a pier in Ocean Springs celebrating his 30th birthday after 4.5 years of marriage and 2 children. It was a strange, almost wistful feeling to say the least.

That night we went to dinner at the White Pillars restaurant and it was pretty amazing even if I did think that the tiny complimentary tasting was the appetizer we had ordered. I was feeling pretty cheated! The bourbon-based drinks and delicious entrees were only eclipsed by the amazing White Pillars chocolate bar dessert. Seriously, I was living my best life for that plate.

The following morning we had pancakes at a local breakfast joint and then went to Beauvoir. It was beautiful and coincidentally it was Jefferson Davis’ birthday so they did a whole salute and shot cannons to mark the occasion. Also. Cupcakes. So I’m counting that as a win in my book. Ben and I love history so it was the perfect end to our trip.

And that’s how I kidnapped my husband. It was great, and I highly recommend it. Also, that boy better spoil me for my 30th, but it’s a while until then because I’m his much younger and hotter wife 😈.

Am I the only one?

Musings over my second cup of coffee

So, now I’m out of school, Clark is out of the woods, Darcy is out of her mind, and I finally have a moment to blog. I decided that since my unpopular opinion post was a hit because apparently we all have thoughts that suck, I decided to have an “Am I the only one?” post.

Am I the only one who…

  1. Hates hearing about television shows I don’t watch? Shut up about Supernatural or Girls because it is NOT happening. The only shows that count are the ones I watch. Obviously.
  2. Feels superior because I floss my teeth daily? Like, “I bet they don’t floss their teeth daily. Gross.” *scoffs*
  3. Breaks out in my sorority stomp while waiting for my food to finish microwaving? I mean, were you even in a DSU sorority if you don’t do this?!
  4. Thinks of someone randomly, and it makes my heart want to burst with love for them? Even if I haven’t seen them in years? I love people hard, man.
  5. Imagines a scenario or listens to a song so sad that I actually cry? Why do I do this? What is WRONG with me?!
  6. Eats a food because it is healthy, cheap, and convenient even though its texture and flavor are just barely above disgusting? Bananas. I’m talking about bananas, y’all.
  7. Smells meat/milk past their expiration to decide how “expired” it really is? I live  dangerously for someone who has had food poisoning before.
  8. Cleans house like someone with a major disorder? I start by cleaning the bathrooms. But when I go to take the trash out, I walk into the kitchen and decide to unload the dishwasher and then reload it…which then leads me to the bedroom to grab the glass on my nightstand which is covered in dust so I go to get the dust cloth and see the clothes that need to be washed and suddenly its 3 hours later and my house still looks like a pile of dog poop. Le sigh.
  9. Forgets that my sweet little dog is actually a vicious predator? Yeah…Libby has reminded me lately that she’s actually a damn savage. She decapitated a rabbit 2 weeks ago and ate its entrails. She left its carcass in front of Darcy’s playhouse. It was beyond repulsive. Two days later she killed a squirrel, and most recently, she attempted snake-murder. She would have killed the snake had Ben not intervened because it was a “good” snake. So she’s basically an absolute savage who sleeps on my pillow.
  10. Thinks Tom Selleck is still an absolute fox? This is actually probably a stupid “Am I the only one?” because obviously I CANNOT be the only one, here. I love you forever, Tom.
  11. Thinks Amy Schumer is too crude to be a fan of her? I can’t y’all. She’s like Sarah Silverman to me, who is also too crude. Or Dane Cook, who is ALSO too crude. You can be funny and clever without being disgusting. Hello, Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Fallon!

I LOVE hearing about other people’s weird habits. There’s just so much more to appreciate about a person when you know some of their tics. So feel free to share them! I probably won’t judge unless you are just a freak. Or don’t share my love for Tom Selleck. That’s a deal breaker, there. And that’s it. Not a lot of substance here, today. But honestly I’m glad. Because my personal life is a little too exciting sometimes and not in a feel-good kind of way. So you’ll have to contend with my random musings or find another more interesting, compelling, and/or exemplary blog. You’re always welcome here, though. Love to all!

Results?

And my crappy Lazarus analogy

Negative. Mayo Clinic has deemed the results negative, but did acknowledge an elevated level of glycosaminoglycans. They believe this to be from contamination, or could be a sign of some other disorder. So though the answer is not a perfect and resounding “NO!” it is more of a “Almost assuredly and mostly no.”

You would think I would have jumped for joy, but instead I felt immediate fear. What if the elevated levels mean that he actually does have Hurlers?! What if we have to repeat this test?! I CANNOT WAIT AGAIN! I will kill myself. I will jump in front of a bus. I will die because I cannot take one more ounce of stress. These thoughts were immediately followed by more fear that by me saying ‘I can not take any more’ that I was issuing a challenge to God to give me more pain and anguish to prove that I can take it. Cynical, I know.

I put too much faith in science and logic and exactness. Jesus knows that about me, and He wants me to trust in Him whatever the outcome, and I struggle with that–with saying, “Whatever the outcome, I love and trust in You.” Because a part of me, the sinful part, does not feel that way. I love Jesus when I receive His blessings and goodness, and I often lose faith in Him when “it’s not fair.” Jesus knows this about me. So, I believe He gave me a lab result that wasn’t quite perfect. And I reacted predictably–in simultaneous relief and despair.

I am reminded of John 11 account of Lazarus. Jesus loved Lazarus and knew he was very, very sick. Despite this, Jesus stayed where he was for 2 days and said (paraphrased), “This will not end in death, but this will be for God’s glory, and God’s Son will be glorified through this.”

Y’all. Lazarus died. He had been dead for 4 days by the time Jesus came into town. Lazarus’ sister Mary told him,”If you had been here, Lazarus wouldn’t have died!” And then Jesus opens the tomb of a dead man, tells him to get up, and he DOES! Like a mummy, Lazarus walks up out of the tomb. Seriously on the mummy part. John 11:44 says his hands and feet and face were wrapped in cloth 😱

What I’m trying to say, and probably failing at, is that God rarely gives me expedient, nice, and tidy answers. He gives me halfway answers, prolonged waiting times, and frustrating questions. I forget that an answer of “maybe” is not the same as a hard “no,” and sometimes I forget to be grateful for that. Jesus is working for something huge, here. Bigger than huge, even. My despair is caused by putting my faith in the world instead of the One who created it. Shame on me. Jesus is healing my baby. I’ve seen proof of it over and over again, and I still doubt. And today, He answered our prayers. Thank you for your prayers. I am blessed beyond measure by those who love and pray for me and my baby.

Clark is an overcomer, and we are mighty when we unite in prayer. Love to all ❤️

EDIT: I was hesitant to submit this update because my pediatrician wanted to talk to geneticist to clarify the confusing results. I decided to believe in the negative result. I pressed submit and my pediatrician called me immediately. He said that the Mayo Clinic geneticist said the elevated level was from craniosynostosis and NOT Mucopolysaccharidosis. You will never convince me that wasn’t Jesus. 😭👏🏻🙌🏼❤️

An update with a pending update

So basically I still don’t know anything

Waiting.

We sent off labs a couple of weeks ago on Clark to test for a rare metabolic disorder called Hurler’s syndrome. The symptoms are vague in the first year of life, but become more apparent the older the child becomes. He has a few of the vague symptoms and early intervention is essential. Without treatment, children with Hurlers rarely live past 6 years old, and with treatment, some are living into their 20s. It is a life-limiting disease. All week my prayers have been that Clark does NOT have this disorder. I’ve been calling the lab directly to see if the results were in, and at 9:00 a.m. this morning, the lab confirmed that they were resulted. And now, I’m waiting.

Waiting for the doctor’s office to call me with the results. Waiting to know if our lives will be completely uprooted. Waiting to know if a timer has been set on my son’s life.

I’m scared to know what the results are. I’m scared to know whether my son will require a bone marrow transplant thus necessitating chemotherapy. I’m scared that I’ll have to leave my Darcy to be with Clark in the hospital for months. Some people say that it is foolish to “borrow trouble.” We don’t know if he even has Hurlers, afterall. But we will know today, and I’ve made plans. I’ve looked at different hospitals that treat Hurlers and offer bone marrow transplants. I’ve thought about how we can make it work living apart from one another as no hospital in Baton Rouge can treat this syndrome.

I’m praying constantly that this is not going to be a part of our story. Please pray with me, for guidance and strength. I will update very soon. Love to all ❤

There’s a lot of ugly here

My most brutally honest post to date

I’m mad at God. I mean, I am really, really pissed off. Let me back up a minute and fill you in on past events. As usual, prepare yourself for my rambling overshare–

Ben graduated! Yes, he really did. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Engineering. He had multiple job offers and accepted an awesome job before he even graduated. I. Am. So. Proud! We left Ohio with big plans and it’s happening, y’all. Ben has changed careers and has started work as a structural engineer as of Monday. I’m winding down my school year and have been re-hired as a PRN nurse on my old unit for the summer. I finished my awful research class. Basically life is awesome, right?

Then life throws you that curve-ball. I hate, hate, HATE to be cryptic, but I don’t want to share exactly what’s going on quite yet. I need another few days before I can confirm everything and share it with whatever readers may exist. Believe me, I hold no illusions of having this huge platform of captive readers. I’m not that into myself, so I can’t see that I have more than a few close friends/family member that actually have an interest in the Rayners’ going-ons. Anyway, I have this need to word-vomit– to get my anxieties out onto these blank pages and overshare. So here goes.

I’m worried. Why? Because I’m waiting on results again. Once again, I’m waiting. And I’m damn tired of waiting. I mean it. I no longer feel like I can wait in any manner that is socially acceptable. I cannot sit back and say, “I’ll know in God’s perfect timing, and that’s alright with me.” Because it is not alright. It is SO not alright. It is effing torture, and I am filled with fear and anxiety. I am also SO angry. I am angry that–once again– when life seems to be coming together that there is an insidious, lurking threat ready to destroy us.

I can’t pray this away. I alternate between feeling good and peaceful to feeling like the whole sky is falling down. Isn’t it, though? I don’t know how to deal anymore. I used to hit the pavement, you know? Throw on my raggedy tennis shoes and run until it hurt. That way I could at least feel semi-accomplished. Yesterday, I didn’t do that.

I googled worst-case scenarios, formulated hypothetical plans, and cried to my mother. I went to the grocery store to delay picking up my children. I grabbed a 6-pack of petit fours to binge on because I eat my feelings. My coping skills are 👌🏻. I then promptly dropped the box of petit fours onto the pavement while I was getting into my car, which should tell you exactly everything about how my life is going these days. I drove to daycare in defeat and then I carried my children out of said daycare, one in his heavy carrier, the other kicking and screaming because I wouldn’t allow her to continue playing in the water fountain longer than the 2 minutes she had already done so. This older woman (older than me by 20 years) was walking her children (grandchildren?) to the car. She stopped in her tracks, turned around and looked at me in disgust, and said, “Ugh. Y’all come on!” to her kids. Like I was an unfit parent for having a 2 year-old that was tantrum-ing. So, to you, 50ish, pudgy, short, dark-haired lady, “Screw you.” Seriously, though. Next time you look at me like that I will embarrass you soundly by saying, “Please offer me your *expert* advice since you are clearly not in favor of what I am currently doing. Please, do that. And in exchange I will share with you that the Carol Brady hairstyle went out of favor about 4 decades ago. See? We can help each other, you hag.”

Petty, I know. But I was not feeling like the bigger person yesterday. I wanted someone else to feel as bad as I do. I wanted someone else to worry and be anxious and understand the absolute hell I’ve been through the last year. I wanted to be understood. I wanted to enjoy the blessings in this life. I wanted to recognize all of the good, and I also wanted to be ignorant of the bad because I’m tired of knowing all the things and imagining worst case scenarios about the things, and honestly I just wanted to give up because I was so tired. The kind of tired that sleep can’t fix.

Truth be told, I have some ugly vices. I like to withdraw when I’m sad. I crave alcohol and isolation. And yet, because of Jesus and immense growth, I refuse to give into those temptations. Even though they’re there, they just aren’t that loud. I eat my feelings instead. Like yesterday, I ate 3 out of the six smushed-to-hell-petit fours instead. And have plans to eat the remaining ones today. I’m #healthy.

And, in the midst of my downward spiral–I’m reminded…that Jesus has not left me. That the moments of peace I have been blessed with are not of this world. The peace that passes understanding is a gift from my Jesus. My husband is a gift from Jesus, my children are a gift from Jesus. He loves my babies more than I ever could, and He has plans for GOOD. If I were the only human in creation, God would have still sent Jesus to die for my sins.  I don’t need to understand His ways. I just need to trust that He loves me, He is good, and He is sovereign. And if I step back for a minute, that’s pretty easy. It’s literally saying, “You are the God of all the universe. You hereby get to deal with this crap problem because I am tiny and human, and I cannot even.” And yes, I actually pray like that. I also say, “These are some shit circumstances, God, and I am majorly pissed off at you. Fix it, Jesus.” My favorite song right now, is called “Sparrows,” by Jason Gray. It’s based on Matthew 6:25-34. The chorus lyrics are:

“If He can hold the world, He can hold this moment. Not a field nor flower escape His notice. Oh, even the sparrow knows, He holds tomorrow.”

So there you have it. I am a sinful mess with poor coping skills. But I am okay with that. I am me. I’m still here. And Jesus loves me, the foul-mouthed and imperfect woman that I am. I will update soon. Love to all ❤️

Splitting my face with a plastic sword

A sappy post dedicated to my brother

Caleb and Beka/Beka and Caleb.

We are the “babies” of the family. You see, I am the youngest of four children. (1) Katie and (2) Anna are only 3 years apart, but Anna and (3) Caleb are 5 years apart. Caleb and (4) Beka–well, we’re only 19 months apart. So, you can see that there is A) Katie and Anna. & B) Caleb and Beka. I am lucky–I was born into a really great family, and I am close to every single one of my siblings. But Caleb is different. We grew up together and are bonded in a way that only siblings one school-grade apart can understand. We knew all of the same people, were in the same Sunday school classes, and hit major milestones together. He was ahead of me by one year, so there were always those times that he briefly left me behind. Like while I was still in Jr. High as a freshman, and he was a sophomore. Or, when I was finally a senior, but he left for his freshman year of college. But we *get* each other. He’s the only person in the world as funny as I am, and I can tell what he’s thinking. I can feel it when he’s sad even if he’s far away. He shares all of my childhood memories even if he remembers them “differently.” 🙄

As I am feeling sentimental today, I’ll share a few of them with y’all.

One of my earliest memories involves Caleb killing a snake. It was the summer I turned 4 and I remember a small snake was caught in one of our pool gutters. We always loved emptying the pool gutters because of all the bugs and frogs in them, but on this day there was a small pissed off snake wrapped around the handle of the basket. Using a stick, Caleb bludgeoned and killed it. I remember thinking he was so brave. I don’t know that he even remembers…

When we were kids, we both played together and fought together often simultaneously. Once, while we were actually playing, he split my face open with a plastic sword. It was a Wednesday afternoon, we were playing outside, and we were told to come inside, so we could load up and go to church. I told him that we needed to go inside, but he insisted on his stupid, “Duck!” game. He said, “I’m going to tell you to “duck,” as he swung his sword at me. He told me to “Duck!” and I did. “This time, I’m not going to tell you to duck.” I wasn’t quick enough. BLAM! The sword cracked against my left cheek, just below my eye–hard. It hurt, but when I put my hand up to my cheek and pulled it back down, my hand was absolutely covered in blood. I screamed. Supposedly, you could see my cheek bone. I had to go to Memphis, and have a pediatric plastic surgeon suture it back together, so I wouldn’t have a massive scar. I’d probably be a lot hotter without my disfiguring injury, you big jerk. 🙄 Honestly, if you’ve ever seen it, you probably thought it was just a dimple, but it was a Caleb-made dimple. Injuries aside, we spent our childhood playing outside all day everyday; going fishing, catching crawdads, and playing in the hayloft of the barn, threatening to throw each other in the horse troughs. He was my built-in playmate.

In college, our relationship changed Surprisingly, it was the time we were most distant even though we were in college at the same small university. A lot of that probably had to do with who we were each dating at the time (we were constantly going in different directions), but also because I was pretty unforgiving and felt it was my duty to use separation to punish Caleb for whatever I deemed offensive. Now we are not twins, but we are far closer than your average siblings, and the pain that comes with separation (physical distance or emotional) is real. Even so, when I needed him, or when he needed me, we jumped to each others’ aid. When he broke his ankle by being an idiot, I helped him to and from the bathroom and to and from Algebra class at DSU. When I was at death’s door and some awful nurse at the DSU infirmary accused me of being drunk, he came to my dorm to rescue me. I had a sinus infection, bilateral ear infections, bronchitis, and a 103 fever by the way, you hateful shrew of a nurse. So even though we were mad at each other, we still helped one another.

Luckily, the rockier part of our relationship began to smooth out when he met his amazing wife, Lakon. Ugh, I love her. She’s the best, man. I mean, I can make fun of her for days–she makes it SO easy–and she’ll just throw it right back at me. We can laugh at Caleb’s expense, play cards for hours, and lay on “$150 rugs” at 1 am. She’s the best, and has become a real friend to me. I just can’t tell you how much I love having another sister. So, when I first started dating Ben, I really wanted Caleb to like him. Caleb, although kind to just about everyone, does NOT let many close to him. If he doesn’t like you or feels like you are “uppity,” he will hold you at arm’s length and avoid you. I did not want that for Ben and by association, me. Luckily, I didn’t have anything to worry about. He and Ben got along well at first, and are now basically best friends. Caleb calls Ben just to chat, and he DOES NOT DO THAT. They have major bro love, and I couldn’t be happier.

As we’ve gotten older and adultier, we’ve just become closer. When Darcy was diagnosed with craniosynostosis, Caleb loaded up his family and came to Baton Rouge within 3 days. When my 20-week ultrasound with Clark showed abnormalities, Caleb immediately called and told me he would be there that weekend if I needed him. When he graduated from Chiropractic school, I drove across 3 states for a total of 8 hours to see him. That night after I arrived, I was sharing a hotel room with my parents and my father started snoring. It was the worst. I called Caleb at midnight, and he drove to my hotel to bring me to his house to let me stay on their couch. Less than 24 hours after arrival, I loaded up and drove the 8 hours back. On my first official Mother’s Day, I was neck-deep in postpartum depression. I was exhausted, tired, and lonely. Ben arranged for Caleb’s crew to join us at his parent’s lake house as a surprise. It was the best surprise ever.

And now, Caleb is headed off to a new adventure in Florida. It’s stupid because I don’t get to see him much, but I feel the distance. He feels farther away because he is. And knowing that he won’t meet us at the house when I go home to Tobie stings. It’s hard. I’m so, so happy for him and his family, but I am also selfish, and I want him to stay close. I don’t want him to move on and make this fabulous life without me, filled with people I don’t know. It was hard enough lending him to St. Louis for school! Either way, he knows that if he ever needs me, I will drive forever and ever to be there. I would hitchhike across America for that boy because he’s the one I love best. I love you, Bubby!