She’ll hate this picture. We Hill girls very seldom like photos of ourselves. We’re picky that way.
My youngest sister, Meredith, is one of the deepest loves of my life. We have a bond that can’t be explained easily to others. It’s just a fact; one we know and honor and treasure. We are fiercely devoted to each other. Having lost our brother to cancer at the young age of 44 and having lost our other sister for reasons we will never understand, we never, ever take our relationship for granted. We are well aware that with the loss of our parents these past two years, it is now just us. The two of us.
I am eleven years older than Mere. I helped raise her, as I helped raise my other sister. But as we came into adulthood, the years between us were erased and we became not only sisters but friends.
I know that she is giving, kind, generous, loving. I know that she and I can literally fall to the ground laughing over something or other. (We did fall to the ground once – in Boston – and my sister’s boyfriend at the time, who I had just met, just accepted our silliness. He was wise to do so. He’s now her husband.) Don has also witnessed this. He loves seeing us laugh together.
Anyway, I know all this. She has always been there for me. I will always be there for her.
She is a mother to three boys. Two of them are adults now, both of them in college, and they are fine young men. Much of that is due to her diligence and devotion and her determination to help them find their way, to help them be the best they can be.
She amazes me.
Her work as an Occupational Therapist, working with young children and babies, is a testament to her loving heart. She has helped scores of children who are developmentally disabled. I admire her so much, for I don’t think it’s something I could do. I’ve watched her work with children. I stand in awe.
A few years ago, one of her patients was a little baby who almost didn’t make it into this life. In fact, he was brought back from death soon after he entered this world. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He was being fostered by a medical foster family. Meredith would travel to their home to work with this child.
As she grew to know this little boy, she became attached to him. Oh, she bonds with all her patients, but this one was special. She spoke to me about him frequently. It was clear to me that this little boy had touched her heart. Time went by. Meredith’s family got to know him.
Every once in a while, when his medical foster mother suggested that Mere would be the perfect person to adopt him, my sister would briefly consider it but would stop herself from going further. She was too old. Her husband was too old. Her boys were nearly adults. It wouldn’t be right.
We talked about it, she and I. She was understandably afraid to make that commitment. So she backed off.
Then, an encounter with potential adoptive parents who were clearly wrong for this little boy forced her to reconsider. We had many conversations about it. Her husband was all for it. I was all for it – I could hear the love she had for him in every word she spoke.
In the end, it was meant to be. My wonderful sister and her family fostered this boy and eventually adopted him.
I will write more about this extraordinary child in another post. This post is about my sister. She is an incredible mother to Little Z. She nurtures him. She expands his horizons. She is devoted to his care and to providing him with opportunities to learn and grow. I’ve watched her. She is always helping him in the way only a mother/therapist can. She encourages him to stand by himself. I saw it – he stood for two minutes! She makes a game out of it by having him count as he stands there. His right side is impaired, so she encourages him to use his right hand, to use his right leg, to wear an eye patch to strengthen his eye, to try new things. He’s more comfortable with his walker, so she makes sure to find some time each day where he has to use his canes. She plays with him. She challenges him. She does countless things in the course of the day that help his strength, help him surmount the obstacles that a part of cerebral palsy. She loves him and he has benefitted from that love and the love of the rest of his adoptive family. (Notice she’s working with his right hand in the above photo.)
Don was blown away by what he saw when we were in Florida. He’s always loved Mere, but he got to see a side of her that he hadn’t seen before. Even I, who know her like the back of my hand, am amazed by her.
She does all this while working many hours a week, raising her two older boys, caring for her friends and family (including me.)
Little Z has blessed her. She has blessed him. I am convinced that a Higher Power brought them together. He will have the best life. He will triumph. His life will not be about his disability. It will be about who he is: fiercely intelligent, funny, determined, loving.
So, if you ask me who my hero is, I will unhesitatingly say, “My sister, Meredith.”
She is my hero. She is beloved beyond words.