As soon as the warm air hit me stepping off the plane in Los Angeles, I knew that I was about to be thrown back into something that I wasn’t entirely ready for. Snow was falling for the first time that year as I left Germany, and coming home to 70 degree weather in November wasn’t anything to complain about.
That night as I settled into the room that I now shared with my little sister Lily, I knew that things were more different than I thought they would be. Before leaving on my mission, Lily and I were practically attached at the hip. Midnight trips to Taco Bell were the regular thing, and saying goodbye had sucked.
As soon as the 5,700 miles that had been physically separating us were erased, 5,700 emotional miles that were separating our friendship emerged.
The angst of a 16-year-old and enthusiasm of a freshly returned missionary suddenly clashed and pushed us apart over the few weeks that I had at home before returning to BYU-Idaho.
Taco Bell trips were replaced with tension, and our conversations felt hollow. I clearly remember lying in bed one night, less than 10 feet away from Lily, and thinking, “I miss my little sister.”
I realized that as much as I had changed on my mission, she had changed in the 18 months at home.
I decided to take the same enthusiasm that I had for finding people to teach in the mission field and push it into rebuilding a relationship with Lily.
I dragged her to the mall and grocery store with me. I invited myself to go with her to Chick-fil-A on her daily trips for waffle fries and a cherry Coke.
I listened to Korean pop music with her and learned the names of the members of her favorite groups. I learned everything about those groups and tried to stay in the loop on their newest stuff so that I would be ready for a pop-quiz to test my knowledge.
The first few days of trying this out were uncomfortable and pushed me out of my comfort zone, but it worked. I knew all seven members of BTS like the back of my hand. I started getting invited to go along to Chick-fil-A.
5 weeks later, my heart broke all over again when I said goodbye to drive to Idaho. We were on the road to being best friends again, and I was terrified of distance causing that to crumble.
Thankfully, my fears never became a reality, and technology makes the thousand miles between us feel insignificant. Even though Lily is in California, and I’m in Idaho, our relationship has only gotten better. At least once a day, I see Lily’s name pop up on my phone with a FaceTime call.
I look forward to every time I get to go home and sleep less than 10 feet from my best friend.