Monday, May 04, 2009

The Steph I Know

It is 3:18 a.m. and I can't stop thinking--so I thought I'd better write it down. I've hesitated writing before because I have never felt I could do it justice. But since sleep rejects me, maybe it is time.

I grew up pulling potato bugs in wagons with Stephanie. Sitting in round, plastic swimming pools, creating our own Olympic games on picnic benches, jumping from trees onto the tramp, diving for florescent rings at the bottom of our grandma's pool. She was a sister, but we lived in different houses. Two white houses across the street from one another.

from top: Court, Jayne, Jesse, Katie, Steph

I was there each August when she'd try on her school clothes and do a fashion show. I jumped at the chance to hold her American Girl doll, Molly, and I did my best to persuade her to let me be the other passenger (there was much competition) in her Power Wheels Jeep.

When school came around as we neared September, Courtney, Jesse, Steph, Katie and I would walk to school together. Kate and I would walk over to pick them up just in time for family prayer. We'd kneel together and hurry off to school. We got to school almost always during the Star Spangled Banner (about five minutes late). Dr. Roberts, our principal, was always there to welcome the Clark crew, and hurried us to our classes.

back row: Court, next row: Jayne, Casey, Sarah, Jamie, next row: Kate, Steph, Lucy, Natalie

Every Christmas morning after our presents had been opened, Katie and I would run across the street to see what Santa had left our cousins. Jesse always managed to get a new discman, and golf clubs. I swear it happened every year. Courtney, Steph and Lucy always had beautiful clothes, darling dolls and accessories. We'd walk around looking at each group of presents and pass uncle Steve asleep on the couch. Then we'd bring the cousins back home with us in pajamas and boots to show off our new things.

with rhubarb! from left: Jayne, Katie, Jesse, Andrew (behind), Court, Steph (in front), Lindsey

Later, Steph and I were together in Student Government as Junior and Freshman class Presidents. I was proud to take her under my wing and show her off as my relation. We'd make posters together with giant markers and star in assemblies. There were nine of us cousins attending Provo High together at that time.

Steph married Christian about eight months after Jed and I were married. A few years later, while our husbands were finishing school, we found ourselves in the same neighborhood. I'd take Hazel on walks in her giant stroller (you know, the kind we first time moms think we must have) over to the Nielson's to see what they were doing. I was always impressed with Steph--her house, her happy children, her darling, but simple, scrapbooks, her exercise regimen. I was so proud of her.

We didn't get to be neighbors for very long, because Christian finished school and got a job back east. I missed them. I occasionally saw Steph on Halloween or the Fourth of July, when she'd visit her mom. But times were few and far between.

from left: Jayne, Jesse, Lucy, Stephanie

Steph and I are neighbors again now. I went to see her the other day in her new home. What a darling place, and so Stephanie. In the entryway she has an enviable chest of drawers and a mirror. On the chest of drawers is a pretty bowl with the cutest green glass birds--maybe salt and pepper shakers? The wallpaper, the colorful furniture, the crafts on the table, the black cat clock with moving eyes, are all so charming. This time, visiting my neighbor, I was impressed in a whole new way. The cheery glass birds and the girls' crafts are out, and she still works to hike her beloved Y. But now, it is so hard. And she really hurts. But she still keeps doing it.

There aren't really words to tell you how I feel about her. How desperately I wish I could take some of her pain away. How proud I am of who she is. How absolutely beautiful I think she is. I love her so much. So much, it seems silly to try and find the right words to say it.

I hope we'll forever be neighbors now. It is fun to think that sometime maybe Hazel will tromp over on Christmas morning in her nightgown and boots to see what Jane and Claire got for Christmas. Or pick them up, with Parley and Ollie in tow, to walk to school--just in time for family prayer.


Kelly said...

Beautifully written.

megan said...

Glad you decided to write this, Jayne. Beautiful.

{Erica} said...

This was awesome.

p.s. Growing up I got to observe the Clark Crew and envying you guys beyond words, wishing I had cousins nearby, longing for a relationship like the ones you shared with eachother and marveling at what great people you all were...and still are.

Anonymous said...

I Love you too Steph! I wish I could put it so Beautifully. I never was a writer. Thanks to my sister who is. I think everyone needs sisters and cousins. Both of which I wouldn't be the same without. I really do feel like I had a magical childhood, living so close to cousins. It was like a huge family with 20 brothers and sisters.


Rebecca said...

Wow...this brought me to tears. It is so obvious what an incredible family the Clark family really is and that it extends far beyond just the immediate siblings. I, too, have to admit a bit of jealousy in the relationships the Clark family shares but what an example to the rest of us your family is. Thank you for this beautiful tribute reminding me to be grateful for the family I have.

Jen said...

I am so glad you guys are neighbors. It blew me away to see the easter baskets she had so lovingly prepared. Such a cool post Jayne.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Jayne!

Again, all of my prayers are with her and her family for a pain free recovery. My heart aches for them.

You are a wonderful cousin! :)


Kim said...

Just beautiful. It is fun to get another view on this woman that so many have come to love.

Anonymous said...

Jayne --

Megan here in Chicago. After all the hubaloo about Stephanie in the news, I looked her up and started reading her blog. I've followed everything from Courtney to you! While I absolutely adore this lovely woman's blog about her return to normalcy in an uncertain time, I've also fallen in love with you and your beautiful family. I've even linked you on my facebook. This is me.

I made it public so that the next time you chat with your neighbor, you can tell her south side Catholic Irish girls in Chicago love you both!

-Megan Putman

JAMIE said...

jayne you clarkies were so lucky to live so close, i was alway a bit jelouse of that one. and you are so lucky to live close agian. me and my mom have been dying to head on over for a visit to steph, were going to have to hit sometime.
oh and i loved the family pics.

ali said...

words really can't describe the magic of your "family" neighborhood that is still in full force! I think we all wish we could be part of the clark family in many ways. thanks for the tour and taste of heaven.

Lindsey said...

That was beautiful Jayne. I bet it was difficult to write, wondering what and how to say things. Stephanie is so amazing, beautiful and strong. I think of her everyday hoping that each day is a better one for her. She is blessed with family all around.

The pics are the greatest. I espesh love the one with the rhubarb. Oh that stuff was awful. I only ate it to be as cool as the Clarks but I really thought it tasted like crap. D'oh.

Teachinfourth said...

Thanks for letting the rest of us 'slip into' your memories. It was a welcome visit.

Wonderfully written, as always.

theflanfam said...

I think everyone wanted to be a cousin to the clark fam! You were all so close. It is fun to see that you all care about eachother so much! Now all your kids get to be pals. Hopefully they will all make their mark at good ol' Provo high!

Bama Grits said...

Simply Beautiful!!!!!

jayniemoon said...

I'm so flattered to receive such a nice comment!
I am not a facebooker (I know--can you believe it) so I'm going to have to sneak on my mom's account to find you! Thanks again for your kindness--and I will tell Stephanie too!

Anonymous said...

When you posted "House on Elm," my sister, Mom and I all stood over the computer screen laughing so hard we cried. My daugher is 9 and my son, 3. My sister has 3 boys under 4. We absolutely loved it!

Megan Putman