Years ago, when I was only six, I became acquainted with my cousin, a six-year-old girl named Roxane. Some time before I saw Roxane, I was informed that I was getting a new sister. It was she. We were adopting my own cousin for reasons unknown to me at that time.
The first month of our sisterly relationship was quite peaceful. I suppose all new things take a little getting used to. I shared a room with my little sister Deanna and my new sister Roxane. Things were different for Deanna and me, as we had to get used to sharing a bedroom with another person. This created hassles over such issues as who got which bed and who got the most closet space.
In a short time I developed a rage of jealousy towards my new sister. She had fit nicely between Deanna and me; and as the saying goes, “two was company, three’s a crowd.” Constant arguments arose, and sides were being taken. Hardly a day went by that the three of us didn’t get into some kind of argument. And I can recall that most of my arguments were with my new sister.
Not only did I forever argue with her, but I condemned her for coming to live with my family, especially when she started to call our mother, “mom” instead of “auntie.”
Many times I would go out of my way to make sure she did not use anything of mine. If she did, it meant immediate war. Any time she would do something I thought challenging, I would instantly prove that I could do what she was doing and do it even better. For years I diminished her self-image with rude remarks and strained to outdo her at everything.
About four years ago I started to wonder why I had such feelings towards Roxane. My only conclusion was that I was jealous of the attention she had taken from me when she came to live with us. At that time I also realized the damage I had done to Roxane’s self-confidence and pride. I felt so ashamed and am still ashamed of the actions of my younger years. Never once did I put myself in her shoes and try to experience what I was making her go through. What pain she must have suffered. What a feeling of not belonging I must have given her. It would have been difficult enough for her to come live in a house of strangers without having me on her back. Now the problem was how to let her know that I loved her and was so sorry.
Roxane, Deanna, and I were all at girls’ camp that year. It was the night for testimony meeting, a beautiful night, and the Spirit of the Lord was so strong that almost every girl was in tears. Wanting to bear my testimony but being the type of person to break down crying at the first word, I bravely stood and started to speak. I bore my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, of the love I have for the Lord, and of the growth I had received during the week at camp. At this point I had shed many tears and was ready to sit and try to settle down a bit. But suddenly I felt an urge to express my love for my sisters. It felt awkward saying “I love you,” since I had never said those words to them before. But it felt so good. It was as if I had unloaded a barrel of bricks that I had been carrying around for so long. I felt free from a burden that had been there for many years. Satisfied, I sat down. Moments after I sat down I felt two arms around my neck and heard a familiar voice say, “I love you.” Seconds later I felt two more arms around my neck and heard another familiar voice say, “I love you.” It was beautiful. I was full of love for both of them and was so thankful I was inspired to express my love for them that special night.
Now, 11 years after I first set eyes on my cousin, I am eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving me another sister. Roxane has helped me to grow and understand so many things. We are now both 17 years old and are the best of friends. Today we went to a softball game and cheered for all the guys. Yesterday we went to the movies and spilled popcorn all over the people in front of us. Tonight we will go to the dance. And where there was once a crowd, there is now a circle of love.