Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Alli angel.

I never imagined that I would only get to enjoy my Alli-balli's wedding via Instagram, sitting in the Albeta Children's Hospital's cafeteria. 

But then I also never imagined that my husband's little sister would become one of my dearest friends in the whole wide world either.  Life is full of surprises. 

Alli had given a toast at our wedding and I'd known for a while that she wanted me to return the favour. 

I did a lot of thinking back to those initial weeks when Alli started calling me with "Curtis updates". It felt like yesterday that me and my girlfriends were logging on to her LDS singles account to see his picture, all eager to re-live the throngs of young love once again vicariously with her. 

Then when Curtis came up for Christmas it was so fun to see them together. 
My bright, happy Alli even brighter and happier. 

Alli asked me to take some engagement photos for them (on like the coldest week of the whole winter). Curtis was really confused when we said we were going outside. Yup, outside--we're gonna sit you both in the snow and tell you to shed your coats and smile. Poor guy is from San Diego, land of ever ideal weather, where they take engament photos on the beach.

Curtis was shivering so violently beside her, Alli kept breaking out into fits of laughter, which made for some great shots. And served as Curtis' unofficial  initiation. What wouldn't he do for her, if he was willing to risk his life in the Canadian snow for her?

I thought a lot about Alli's toast. Much of it came to me during a session at the temple, but as of the Thursday before the wedding I hadn't actually committed any of it to paper.
I'd planned on doing that on the long drive down to Utah.

As I drove Aaron out to his dental appointment that morning, unaware of the trail that would ensue, I tried to talk myself through the speech, imagining instead of a empty early morning highway as my audience, Alli in her wedding dress, next to Curtis, both beaming.

I bawled the whole way through. In fact, each and every time I tried to read through it, I'd cry. Hard. That good thankful cry, that makes you feel alive and almost reverence the intensity of emotion that can be felt by a human heart touched by another. And man had Alli touched my life.

So in the end, it all worked out, because I got to write the toast I felt I was suppose to, and I didn't even have to blubber in front of everyone to give it!

My wonderful mother-in-law did.

And now I can't wait to get to talk to Alli about her wedding, and hear every detail from her point of view, without my own experience to dim her blissful bride perspective.

I'm so excited to watch Alli's life continue to unfold. A little sad that she wasn't meant to just come live we me forever like I'd love.  I hope I can be there for her because she was certainly there for me.

I'm just gonna pretend that's me hugging her:)

My Toast to Alli: 
When I first began hanging out at the Bretzke home Alli was just a young teeny-bopper who sewed her own rainbow pants and painted her bedroom furniture bright orange.  
Her dreams were as bright as she was.  
Alli has always had an infectious enthusiasm for life...and taxis!
I know this particular Alli- antidote gets shared lots but it cuz it's "classic Alli" and I think it really portrays Alli's exuberance for life.
From movies Alli had thought all taxis were yellow, but upon visiting her first big city she quickly discovered, much to her delight that there were lots of different colored taxis! The whole trip she'd call out new colors and even made sure to document each new shade with a photograph. 
Curtis I'm sure you have gotten a little taste of her "Alli excitement."
Perhaps when you showed her the pomegranates--her favorite fruit--growing in your parents back yard ???
Or when, on your first date in Disneyland, she saw the little kid rocket ride and was soooo excited ride them! 
One of the first times I was reassured that you knew and loved our Alli-Bally was right before Christmas when she had me "meet" you on Skype. 
You sat down with a mischievous look and said you'd been working on your "Alli impersonation" all day. 
Care to give it? 
"It was real fun, and real a party!"
Life with Alli truly is full of her gift of excitement and enthusiasm 
But life isn't always a party. 
In fact, when I first began thinking about giving this toast the first phrase that came to mind was for Curtis---and it was "I'm sorry"
I'm sorry Curtis that you had to wait so long. I'm sorry you had to wait because The Lord just knew I needed her. 
I needed her to meet me for lunch my last semester of university. 
I was newly married, pregnant, tired of school and on top of that just as I entered this wonderful family of ours, we all suffered an unexpected and heartbreaking loss. It was a good thing Alli was in psychology because man did she conduct some good counseling sessions with me! 
That semester was when Alli ceased to be my husband's little sister, and she became my friend. 
And what a good friend.
The following summer we'd moved to Tennessee for a few months, but I'd returned to Canada to have our first baby, who decided to arrive early before my husband could fly back. 
But it was okay, because Alli was right there and instead of it being a scary, sad thing to give birth the first time without my was.... 
like a party! 
I'm not sure Alli remembers it that way... but her presence transformed the whole situation. 

I'll always be so glad she was there.
Alli has been my heaven sent, personal angel--more than once. 
During the last few years Alli has lived on and off with us.

My husband, Ben, was ALWAYS supportive of that because he knew Alli was so good at helping his wife stay happy. Plus the more she talked me through things, the less he had too. She always knew how to get me to take a break or stop worrying or cleaning and just eat some fruit salsa and play a game of "little woman" style Catan. 
She even came all the way to Houston, Texas to live with us one summer, while she waited to go to Turkey on a study abroad program. 
But Alli is very good at listening to The Lord, even when it's not what she wants. 
I'll always remember Ben walking in to our apartment to find us both crying on the couch, the same day her flight to Turkey was to be confirmed. 
"What's wrong Alli?" he asked. 
"I'm not going to turkey!" she wailed. 
"Why not?"
"I'm going on a mission!" she sobbed. 
She had her clear answer from the scriptures and was willing to sacrifice her own plans to follow the Lords. 
That plan involved her waiting longer than she'd anticipated before she received her call to serve in Taiwan. 
Now Alli, I can apologize to YOU because I'm pretty sure you had to wait because again I needed you. 
That fall, the same perfect little baby who Alli had helped me bring into the world 2 years before was being diagnosed with autism. 
I had just had our second son McKye, or as Alli deemed him "giggle button". 
I will never forget how grateful I was to have Alli there during that challenging time.

I was traversing a whole new world of therapies, and terminology and professionals in and out of our home and she held my baby for me. When I couldn't be there she was my replacement arms, and substitute kisses, she snuggled and swaddled my baby and even found her inner "mommy ear" that stays awake to hear him at night. 
To me those months of her holding my baby were a pre-mission; for she truly was already representing the Savior long before she put on that official name tag. 
She was a great missionary and it was so fun getting letters from her.

She found all this great cheesy stationaries that made every letter feel "like a party!" She also showed extreme strength and discovered how very much she was capable of with the Lord's help. I knew from first hand experience how lucky her companions were... Not to mention how lucky her future eternal companion would be! 
Alli wanted to go to BYU when she got home and I'd made lots of phone calls to arrange it, but once again she listened to The Lord when he told her to return to Edmonton. 
A few times she tried to move back in with us. One visit she used a whole hour of driving to the temple to tell me all the reasons she should move back down and live with us. 
But once again she listened to The Lord. 
Who I truly believe, was putting things in place for her to find you Curtis. 
Everytime Alli would call with the latest "Curtis" update I would marvel how The Lord had provided Alli with so many of the exact qualities she had been searching for. 
Alli's enthusiasm for other guys had always seemed to fizzle out the more she got to know them, but with you Curtis I remember her saying, "Chels. I like him more and more every time we talk!" 
That was the moment I knew Alli was in love. 
About a month before you began your "ongoing contact" with your special  "foreign alien" I was up to visit her and we had a long talk where she shared some of her fears and frustrations about finding someone. 
That night I shared with her what I get the most excited about when I think about the eternities--
It's getting to see the people I love, truly happy. 
So watching my Alli who I love so much, find someone who makes her so happy? It is nothing less than a glimpse of heaven for me. 
Thanks for letting me see a little bit of heaven and 
Thank you Alli, for being my angel. 

My angel Alli, even came to Hawaii with us to hold baby Levi...
who was also "giggle button'. 

Love you Alli! And if you ever need me to come to sunny California, to hold YOUR babies...
I'm so there:)


Karlene said...Best Blogger Tips

this is beautiful, and i bawled my eyes out!! good job chelsea!

Crystal HW said...Best Blogger Tips

So sweet, Chelsea!

Amy said...Best Blogger Tips

I knew it, tears!!

Julie May said...Best Blogger Tips

Oh, wow, Chelsea. What a moving tribute to a spectacular girl!