I grew up in Southern California. My family lived in Glendora, a suburb of Los Angeles. Twenty-six years ago a job transfer moved us to Michigan. It was a crazy, scary culture-shock of a move. I didn't know a soul in Michigan, had never driven in snow, and had zero experience with school buses. We walked to school in Glendora. Twenty miles uphill both ways in the blazing hot sun. That was my childhood. Just kidding. It was six blocks, and pretty flat - and there were a lot of kids in my neighborhood, so my sisters and I had a pretty good crowd to walk with.
When I moved to Michigan, I left a huge piece of myself behind in California. I had so many friends, and my siblings were there as well. It wasn't long before I found myself desperately homesick. I would dream at night I was back at home in California, and when I woke up and saw I was still 2300 miles from everything familiar, I would lie in bed and cry.
One night, I was so lonely and homesick, I called my sister, Debbie. We were crying on the phone, and wishing we could get together. As we talked, it got very late, and I went outside to sit on the swing in the dark. I looked up at the sky. The moon and the Big Dipper were clearly visible in the cold Michigan sky. As I looked at them, I asked Debbie if it was dark yet in California. She said it was, and I told her to go outside and look at the sky - to see the moon and look for the Big Dipper. I waited, and asked if she could see them.
After a few minutes, she excitedly said she could. And together, we looked at the same moon and stars, and suddenly the world didn't seem so big - and our hearts didn't seem so far apart.
Fifteen years later, Debbie unexpectedly passed away. And there are days, like today, when I miss her terribly. I don't know what brings it on, but I do know it hurts. I never stop wishing she was here, and I treasure so many precious memories in my heart. Sometimes I cling to those memories, and they help me get through the moment. Or the hour. Or the day. Or the week. Or the month. But I do get through.
Tonight, I will be looking for the Big Dipper.