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.