Five For Friends: How does a match stay strong?
Happy Matchiversaries is a series that celebrates the longevity of BBBSEMO relationships. For this installment, we invited Little Sister Hannah (H) and Big Sister Mary Jane (MJ) to reflect on five elements that have made their five-year match – an anniversary they celebrated September 25, 2017 – so solid.
1. SHARED EXPERIENCE
MJ: “We initially connected through our shared losses of significant people in our lives. For me it was one of my younger brothers…”
H: “… and for me it was my dad.”
MJ: “My brother had cancer…”
H: “… and so did my dad….”
MJ: “I know these losses are different. I’m not saying I know how you feel. I can’t begin to imagine the pain of losing your dad, especially at such a young age.”
H: “But you can relate in some kind of sense. Grief is different for each person and you get that. It’s important to me that you get it. Not everyone does. You can never know what I’m going through, but you try to understand.”
MJ: “Something I’ll always remember is the time I took you to see Lori Chalupny (past US women’s national soccer team member), whom your dad coached when she was young. When you asked her if she knew your father – without telling her your relationship to him, and she said something like, ‘He was one of the best people I ever knew’ – the look on your face then is one of my all-time favorite moments. I’ll never forget it.”
2. ACKNOWLEDGING AND CELEBRATING DIFFERENCES
H: “Different strokes for different folks!” (laughing)
MJ: “Look at us right now! You like things simple and routine. Don’t you always order the foot-long cold cut combo with American cheese and mayo and honey mustard? I order something different every time.” (laughing) “Does that make me more high-maintenance?”
3. GOOD COMMUNICATION
MJ: “We figured out right away you don’t like talking on the phone, so I always text your mom. She’s really awesome at responding quickly, and she works hard to keep me up to date on important happenings in your life.”
H: “You’re right – my mom does do a lot. I actually made a card for her today, thanking her for all that she does for me….”
MJ: “You’ve also always been easy to talk to, though. I’ve never had to wonder what you think about something. You’re always willing to speak up!”
H: “I really enjoy talking to you, Mary Jane. I appreciate the fact that you listen to me.”
H: “We both have other commitments, like with our families and our schools, and my sports stuff or your work. So we have to be understanding. We may not be able to get together sometimes because one of us has another commitment. And it’s okay.”
MJ: “Yes – I remember when I decided to go back to school and work full-time, I felt horrible that our time together was cut shorter and less frequent because of the rigor of all that. I had talked with you about it, thinking you might be disappointed or upset. Your response blew me away! ‘Why would I be upset with you? I know you’re doing the best that you can.’”
H: “Well, it’s true. I know you do your best to make time for me. Being understanding is just part of being a good friend.”
H: “Sometimes it occurs to me that you don’t have to do this – be my Big Sister, that is. The fact that you do, and that you make an effort to spend time with me, means a lot.”
MJ: “Wow! I guess the same could be said for you. You don’t have to do this, either. That’s pretty powerful!”
H: “That’s what makes this a true friendship…! :)”
*All photos courtesy Big Sister Mary Jane*
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