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Another Cinderella Story

 ...(albeit a different version)

by Rhea Bowen

My Big Sister, Anita’s, favorite story that she shares with others about our friendship is a time that she took me to see Cinderella. I love hearing her tell the story. I thought, as we approach our 23rd anniversary, that it was time to tell my version of the story, from my perspective.

I was nine going on ten when I met Anita. Anita came in to my world through the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Traditional Matching program. I was living with my father and my older brother. At this point in my life, I had said goodbye to many people. First, my mother left, after the divorce she moved to another city a few hours away, that was when I was three. Then when I was five she decided to relocate to the southern states. Second, my grandmother, to whom I had said goodbye twice, once when I moved to another province to live with my dad while he was going to university and the second time, when she passed away the summer when I was turning ten. Third, my first big sister, I don’t remember her name. We had only been matched a short time. I do remember when Rhonda, my caseworker, told me that she (my first big sister) could not see me any longer as she was ill and was moving away. Fourth, my second big sister, I don’t remember her name. I however do remember the last time I saw her. It was just after she dropped me off at my house after going to the movies. We had only been matched a very short time. I also again remember when Rhonda told me that the match wasn’t working; however, while I don’t ever recall the actual words that Rhonda used. In my child’s mind I remember it as something about the woman just not wanting me or liking me.

Anita and I were matched just before my tenth birthday in 1987. In the beginning of our match, there were many moments when she wanted to take me to the movies and I would refuse to go. In my childhood experience going to the movies would mean that I would have to say goodbye to her. I couldn’t say goodbye, yet again.

Reluctantly, I finally said yes. I don’t recall why I finally said yes to go to the movies. I think I probably said yes just to get the goodbye over with. And there I was just barely ten years old in the movie theatre, watching Cinderella with Anita. Prepared to say goodbye. Prepared to let go. I remember sitting beside her, silently crying. Crying because I was sad. Crying because this was the last time that I would see her. And I really liked her. Crying again because here was another affirmation that there was something wrong with me, and no one wanted to be around me.

And then, Anita turned over and said something to me. She had asked me why I was crying. I don’t remember the words that I used (as it was so long ago). I just remember her telling her that this was the last time that I would see her, as this was what happened just before my second big sister left me.

Instead of saying goodbye, Anita dug into her purse and showed me two tickets to the Nutcracker Tea that was taking place the next week at the art gallery. Two tickets! Wait a minute. That means she wasn’t saying goodbye, and the she wanted to still see me and spend me with. That was the moment! It was the moment I opened up and trusted. Despite having a history of saying goodbye, this was one person I would never have to say goodbye to and have yet to. I finally found someone who liked me for me.

When I look back on the past 23 years. I believe that, that moment was one of the most defining moments of our friendship. As a ten-year-old girl, I took a chance and had courage in the face of what I thought was despair. And in return, I got a happily ever after.

While my happily ever after, is not a castle and prince charming, instead, I would argue it is much better. I have a life long friendship with the most incredible giving woman. I have 23 years and counting, of learning, laughing, sharing, and bonding, with a woman who always sees and loves the real me. I got a Big Sister. I have truly been blessed.

Now that I am 32 turning 33, I still have said goodbye people, friends, to lovers, beloved family members, and my father. The one constant in my life is and always will be, Anita.

Submitted 2010

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