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Sharon Randall: Sisters by choice

By Sharon Randall

There she was, my best friend in the great state of Nevada, the kindred soul that I call my “oasis in the desert,” beaming up at me from a photo she posted on Facebook with two women she’s known even longer than she’s known me.

Linda might not say she likes them better than she likes me. But I can’t blame her if she does.

They’re her sisters. Blood kin.  They’ve known each other forever. They grew up together. Skinned their knees on the same rocks. Dried their backsides on the same towels. Buried their faces in the same pillows. And fought, laughed and loved each other in everything and nothing.

They know each other’s stories and played major roles in most of them. And three years ago, when they lost the mother they adored, they held each other close, dried each other’s tears and promised to get together again soon. It’s hard to forge a stronger bond than that.

I know the feeling. I have a sister, too. Mine lives in South Carolina. Linda’s live in Kansas.

It’s a long way from Vegas to South Carolina or Kansas. We don’t get to see our sisters as often as we wish we could.

Maybe that’s why Linda and I have become so close. We live a few miles apart. When one of us calls the other to say, “Wanna meet for lunch?” the answer is usually, “I’m on my way!”

Our husbands are friends, too, so when the four of us get together, they don’t seem to mind that Linda and I talk nonstop and ignore them.

But our friendship is far more than just one of convenience. Spending time together helps to fill the void that comes from missing our blood sisters. It also allows us to tell our stories.

Ten years ago, when my husband’s job took us from the coast of Northern California to the desert outside Las Vegas, we left behind not only our grown children (my three and his two) but a wealth of friends we’d known and loved for years.

Good friends can never be replaced. If you move far away from them, you stay in touch as best you can. And when you get together, you pick up where you left off. But at the same time, if you’re lucky, you make new friends to share your new life.

More than lucky, I was blessed to be befriended by Linda. We met through our husbands, who worked together. From the start, we felt a connection, as if we knew things about each other we had no way of knowing.

Turns out, we have lots in common. We grew up in small towns in families that struggled to make ends meet but always had “enough.” Our values are remarkably similar. We care about the same things. And though we can’t prove it, we like to brag that we’re the only two women in the Las Vegas Valley who ever used a real outhouse.

Mostly, we like to laugh. And we love to tell stories — stories about growing up, raising our children, becoming who we are.

In the past 10 years, we’ve spent hours every few weeks or so telling each other our stories. And we still have more to tell.

Sharing stories can turn strangers into friends. It can also turn friends into sisters.

Linda and I aren’t sisters by birth. We’re sisters by choice. I have one birth sister and a whole family of chosen ones.

I hope you do, too. You can never have too many sisters.

The photo Linda posted is a keeper: Three women of a certain age with the same smiles, same eyes, same history and same joy at being together.

In their faces are the same little girls they once were, and will forever be, holding onto each other, come what may — and having too much fun.

I wish you could see them.

And I really wish I could’ve been in that photo with them.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson, NV 89077, or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.

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