Growing up as children of a single working mother, my sister Wendy and I shared a bedroom for most of our childhood years. In fact, we often shared the same bed. Except for a short time in high school when Mom was able to purchase a set of bunk beds, we drew an imaginary line down the center of our hand-me-down double mattress and didn’t think a thing of it. Financially, my mother struggled to keep us sheltered and fed, but somehow God always provided. It’s true that we had little, but I only remember the good times spent with each other. For every hardship we faced, we knew we were facing it as a team.
Oh, we had a few fights during our bedroom-sharing days. But mostly I remember the sound of our whispers as we fought off sleep, desperate to stay up as long as possible to prove our maturity. I remember the laughter as we swapped jokes, and the kicks under the sheets when I took up too much of her “territory.” I remember filling every inch of leftover space of that bed with stuffed animals, and the tug-of-war battles with the blankets each night.
Wendy and I shared everything during those lean years. We shared a set of hamsters between ourselves until they suddenly began to multiply, and then we shared them with every friend who would have one. We shared clothes, games, food and Burger Chef and Jeff records. We shared adventures in our small backyard and a long list of chores each summer day. We shared life, and it was nice.
These days Wendy lives with her own family in the same hometown, but I have settled in another state with my own family. We occasionally post a note to each other on Facebook, or share an email or two. Somehow our adult lives have become so complicated that phone calls are few and far between. Any you know what? I miss her. I miss the sound of her voice and I miss the way she could always make me laugh. I miss the way she stood up for me whenever a school bully was mean, sticking out her chin and daring anyone to mess with us. She was tiny for her age, but she cast a shadow so much larger than life. She still does.
I’ve been thinking about how life has pulled us apart. Our boundaries have grown and we have scattered. Our own kids have their own rooms with separate toys and blankets. They have no idea how much they have.
These days, times are becoming lean again. Matt and I are thinking about scaling back – leading a more minimalistic kind of life. It’s not so much because we want to, but that economically, we have to do it. Perhaps the time will come when our family is forced to downscale and our kids must share a room with a sibling like Wendy and I did so many years ago. My kids get along so well, which is good, but how would they feel about bunking up with each other on a nightly basis? They would complain and they would fight, of this I can be certain. But I can imagine myself standing outside of their shared bedroom door and listening as their angry squabbles settled into a steady hum of whispers. Then sometime deeper into the night, those whispers would become giggles and finally, sleep would come. Yes, they would survive.
And you know, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad after all.