Aristotle’s definition of friendship is the image of one soul dwelling in two bodies. My cousin Kristin and I share a bond that even our mothers cannot comprehend – a connection that goes deeper than family ties or the results of a lifelong friendship. Ironically, we have always been opposites, yet complement one another appropriately. I am the tall brunette. She is the short blonde. My sandwich is full of only peanut butter, hers is reserved for jelly. I scrape off and devourer the icing, she munches on the cake. Our bond began in a premenstruation, preboyfriend, prerebellion pocket of childhood and has been evolving ever since. We have grown up together and even though we are often the source of commotion at family events – be it through stuffing turkey into a vacuum cleaner, instigating some sort of tournament, or running to get the first pick of dessert – we have taken a turn for maturity. This transformation was brought upon by an unforeseen occurrence in life, something that changed both of us forever.
March 15, 2007. This date encompasses more than being three days after Kristin’s seventeenth birthday; it is the day that Brayden entered the world, the day that my cousin, best friend, and counterpart became a mother. The nine months I had to prepare for this day seemed seconds long. Kristin was having a baby; the topics of teenage pregnancy and the choice of life were becoming a reality, and we were growing up in the blink of an eye. At first I was overwhelmed; I couldn’t believe something so sudden and life altering was happening to someone so close to me. The day she confirmed the news from her doctor, I cried myself to sleep. We were going to be seniors in high school and had, only a few days before, been talking about college and plans for the future. I wasn’t the one carrying a child, yet I felt as if my adolescence and innocence had been robbed. All I could think about were the days we spent making cookies in our pajamas and the nights we stayed up giggling till three a.m. I needed to be strong and supportive of her, yet I felt like she was the courageous and sturdy one. Kristin took complete responsibility for her actions and started preparing for life as a mother. She never once considered or brought up abortion, the inhuman and “easy way out” of having a child at seventeen. She became a model for others and continued living her life as usual.
Kristin remained in school as long as permitted then took her schoolwork into her own hands, learning and keeping up at home, yet still maintaining her position on the honor roll. She remained positive and as her stomach grew larger, her excitement and anticipation followed. She turned a situation that is often viewed as a “tragedy” in the life of a teenage girl into a beautiful celebration of life. The birth of Brayden brought more substance to the level of maturity and responsibility that Kristin possesses as a person.
Kristin’s journey, from taking responsibility for her actions and choosing life for her son to the morning of his birth, has influenced my life in ways I never imagined possible. The experience has shown me how quickly life can change and how important it is to establish morals. Watching Kristin succeed as a mother has taught me about responsibility, maturity, and unconditional love. She has grown so much in the past year and, consequently, so have I. The choices and sacrifices that Kristin has made and continues to make for Brayden define her as a person, a person who significantly influences my life.
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