A Tribute to my Best Friend

Today is my sister Clare’s birthday! Personally, I think today should be a national holiday, with streamers twirling from the tallest towers, gigantic balloons that never pop, a life size cake and the need to hire sweepers to clean up the confetti from the streets from the joyful celebration of Clare’s life.

Do you want to see a picture of Clare when she was a baby?

There she is sound asleep. We were best buds even from the beginning.

There she is again all cute and cuddly. We have matching dresses too (thanks Mom).

Clare is my best friend. I call her Doc. Clare loves Jesus, Mary and the Saints above all. Clare puts the G in genius and is in graduate school studying to get her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. She has on several occasions “ruined” the curve for the entire class due to her outstanding grades. Clare has exceptional taste, she loves to shop at J.crew (the sale rack of course, graduate students are poor), but you still have to look good right? Clare is a former Division 1 athlete, a two time marathon runner and an avid surfer.

Here she is with Megan after they both completed the Marine Corps Marathon!

One time when we were surfing in California together a cute surf instructor told Clare to “go back to Jersey and tear up the surf .”

I think he had a crush on her, at least he had good taste!

Clare embodies love. Her compassionate nature is rooted in her faith; you will never meet a more gentle soul than Clare. Clare has a servant’s heart and walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain to the tomb of Saint James two summers ago. Last summer she spent her free time in Alaska helping to bring the love of Christ to the natives there.

Clare in Spain (looking very tan)!! 🙂

They walked over 20 miles each day on their pilgrimage.

The end of their journey.

Clare with one of the children in Alaska.

With one of the little boys she took care of in Alaska.

 Clare is exceedingly humble and self-giving. Today when I called her she managed to change the conversation to me and asked about my day when I was talking about her. Her humility is astounding, when she graduated from college she was in the running to give the valedictorian speech and choose not to compete saying that someone else could do a better job. On her graduation day she needed an extra set of hands just to carry all of her awards.

Clare’s graduation: Clare, our best friend Elizabeth and I at Seton Hall University

Some of my favorite adventures with Clare involve danger. One time we were hiking in California and there was a sign that said, “Dangerous do not proceed.” Clare looked at me with a mischievous smile and said, “you know we are going forward, right?”

One time when we were trick or treating and a man drove by and asked if we wanted to see “puppies” and have extra candy. Clare ran toward the van and then I tackled her and told the man we had enough candy and that we hated puppies. I just wanted Clare to be safe and thought the white lie was okay under the circumstances.

Another time we were visiting our brother James in Washington DC and went running at sunrise together. A fifteen passenger van pulled up alongside us twenty minutes into our run, opened the door and asked us where the White House was. They continued to say that they were late for a tour. Well Clare being the  soul that she is always offering to help went over to the van. Meanwhile, I thought to myself the White House is a fourth of a mile away and can clearly be seen from where we are and I know they don’t offer tours at 5:30 am in the morning. Clare is not afraid of personal danger.

Clare horseback riding in Napa Valley.

Clare and I have run thousands of miles together since we were kids, hundreds of races, adventures, country music concerts, trips, horseback riding excursions and I’m not talking about the pampered equestrian experience. I’m talking about the real hold on tight, I think I might fall off and break my neck experience (it’s not as easy as the movies make it seem). We have toured Napa Valley, Boston, Washington DC, Vermont, Fenway Park, Virginia and countless other cities and states together. Clare brings joy to every outing and I miss her dearly living so far away.

Clare and I have spent many summers in Vermont together. We would go running every morning on a trail near our house and one morning a cute guy followed her from the trail to daily Mass, because he wanted to be her friend. Clare attracts people to herself because they are truly attracted to her Christ centered virtues.

Water skiing in California. Clare is the tan one (and she never lets me forget it).

Napa Valley

Sometimes it’s hard for my extremely sensitive heart to be vulnerable, but when it comes to Clare I want the world to know how much she means to me. Even if I was a world famous writer, I could never compose a string of words to adequately describe my love and respect for Clare. She is the most generous, forgiving, compassionate and patient sister. When I needed a mixer for my baking and didn’t have the money she deposited $350.00 in my account so I could buy one. When I was sick, she came with me to every doctor appointment and sacrificed days to be there with me. When I received heart breaking news, and it took me two years to recover, she was there with me through each step of my recovery. When I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror, she was my eyes, and told me I was beautiful. Clare has been with me through the days when I didn’t know how to love myself. And held me through the nights when it was to scary to fall asleep.

With tears in my eyes, I want to wish you the happiest of all birthdays Clare! Thank you for being the best sister a girl could ask for. Thank you for just being there. I can’t wait to celebrate in two weeks when you come to Nashville.

Oh look, I’m taller!

With all my heart, I love you Doc.

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What Moves Us to Reform Is Love

I read this reflection from the Magnificat and wanted to share it with you because its simplicity is beautiful. It is written by St. Therese of Lisieux.

Papa seemed to be rejoicing with that joy that comes from a sacrifice already made. He spoke just like a saint, and I’d love to recall his words and write them down, but all I preserved of them is a memory too sacred to be expressed. What I do recall, however, is a symbolic action my dear King performed, not realizing its full meaning. Going up to a low wall, he pointed to some little white flowers, like lilies in miniature, and plucking one of them, he gave it to me, explaining the care with which God brought it into being and preserved it to that very day. While I listened I believed I was hearing my own story, so great was the resemblance between what Jesus had done for the little flower and little Therese. I accepted it as a relic and noticed that, in gathering it, Papa had pulled all its roots out without breaking them. It seemed destined to live on in another soil more fertile than the tender moss where it had spent its first days. This was really the same action Papa had performed a few moments before when he allowed me to climb Mount Carmel and leave the sweet valley which had witnessed my first steps in this life. I placed the little white flower in my copy of the Imitation at the chapter entitled: “One must love Jesus above all things,” and there it is still. 

– Saint Therese of Lisieux