Thursday, May 14, 2009


Me and Jennifer, by Kimel Photography

I’m an eldest child. Even if you had never met me and randomly saw me on the street, a few moments’ observation would probably give it away. I’m an eldest child.

I have a “little” brother (now 20 years old), and I also happen to be the oldest in a group of cousins. I’m used to being large and in charge. The leader, the trailblazer. I set the example.

Unfortunately, I didn’t always have one to follow. It’s the downside to being the oldest. You’re kind of on your own. The trailblazing is fun, until you come to a fork in the road and realize you’ve got to choose. No older sibling to take hints from; no bigger footsteps to follow.

But there has always been someone in my life whose footsteps were right in front of me; whose path I could trust.

See, on the other side of the family, I’m not the oldest. I’m actually the middle child (it’s a role I’m not sure I always fit). I am the exact middle sibling in a group of five cousins. And my “big cousin” Jennifer is the oldest.

We never lived anywhere near each other, but we were close. We saw each other during the summers, and, when lives got too busy to visit, we wrote letters. That’s right. We were good, old-fashioned pen pals. Still are, actually.

But this past weekend, Jordan and I decided it was time to pay Jennifer and her husband a visit. We’d been out to Little Rock on one other occasion, right after Jenn and Jarred got married and Jordan and I were first dating. The trip has fond memories for both of us, so we figured another trip out there would be well-worth our gas money.

It was.

It’s funny how despite time and distance, family members can be so much alike. The similarities I find between myself and Jennifer are almost comforting, like the big sister I never grew up having. We finish each other’s sentences, carry around color-coordinated planners, and smile until our eyes disappear. We laugh at the same things. We have similar tastes in music, movies, TV shows, and, yes, I’ve found, even men.

And while this weekend was just an all-around good time, it was also a lesson. A glimpse into the future.

Because Jordan and I are both eldest children. We’re it. We’re going on this married thing by faith alone. We’ve got no older siblings to give us advice, no role models to set the pace.

Except, maybe, Jennifer and Jarred.

They’re just one step ahead. At 26 years old, they’re right in front of us. They’ve been where we’ve been and are headed in the direction we want to go. Seeing them this weekend was a comfort, a reminder. A reminder that we will someday be done with school. That we will be able to pay off our debts. That we will eventually be able to purchase a home and welcome others into it. That fulfilling careers are on the horizon. That marriage can be tough, but it’s fun. That we can make a difference in the lives of other children until we have our own.

It was nice to be reminded, to see a little bit of our future selves in Jennifer and her husband. It was nice to have an example, to be encouraged to press on.

Our visit gave us just what we needed to come back home, refreshed and ready to be the oldest again. Ready to be trailblazers and to leave footprints.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Annie- That's so sweet of you! I hope I can be a good example for you but just know that you and Jordan are also good examples for Jarred and I. We absolutely enjoyed hanging out with you both this past weekend. I know it was busy but I really enjoyed it. I love you very much and yes, we'll be visiting you next!!! Hopefully we won't bring the rain with us. I'm so thankful we're close and I pray we always will be. Love you, Jenn