On Second Thought: A sibling’s love

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 16, 2024

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By Marie Harrison

For the Clemmons Courier

At my daughters’ school, May means one thing: Shakespeare.

For many months leading up to the Shakespeare Festival on the first Friday of May, every class, in every grade level studies some aspect of Shakespeare. From making replicas of the Globe Theater to puppets of the characters, to dancing the Maypole, there is so much to do. Yet, as a parent, my favorite part of the festival has always been the play. The middle schoolers work for months learning lines in Old English — no easy feat — and the teachers contribute their gifts in set design and costume and lighting and some way, somehow, it all comes together in a fabulous performance.

And as all the families gather in the auditorium, waiting eagerly for the play to begin, the excitement begins to build. Not necessarily for the play alone, but for the big reveal. You see, every year, one person is chosen to be the queen. As part of truly transporting the children back into the time of Shakespeare, the queen is invited to come and view the play as all the patrons curtsy and bow while she makes her way down the long center aisle to her throne at the front of the room. But who will be the queen each year is a top-secret matter, a secret guarded so closely that no one knows, and everyone is left guessing until that fateful moment the double doors open, and the queen makes her grand appearance.

Each year, the person chosen to be queen has some significance to the school. A teacher who is retiring, a parent who has served faithfully over the years and now is graduating their final child, everyone begins speculating around March, who the queen will be this year. And for her part, the queen must say nothing. She can’t let on to anyone what her role will be. So, imagine my surprise, when I got a call in early January asking me about this year’s queen. No, not me, my daughter. I was speechless when the head of school asked if my eighth-grade daughter would serve as this year’s queen. 

My daughter had been a member of this school since second grade, and in what should have been her final year, her last chance to hang out with the friends she has known all her life and experience all the fun that comes with being an eighth grader, she had to step away and move to homeschooling. Shortly after the start of the school year, it became apparent that walking and navigating the school building was becoming too dangerous and difficult given her medical condition. So, she had no choice, she had to leave her friends, and her teachers and schooling as she knew it, quite a lot to take in and process all at once. When I shared with my daughter that she was asked to be queen, she was flabbergasted. A student has never had that honor before. She was touched and moved but had reservations. How would she navigate down that long center aisle in the fancy, and very heavy, queen’s dress? She was adamant that she didn’t want to use her wheelchair so how could we make this work? And that’s when my son stepped in. Her 17-year-old brother offered to dress as the queen’s escort and provide a steady arm as she walked into the auditorium. And tears instantly sprang to my eyes.

As a parent, you love each of your children, dearly. And there is truly no greater gift than to see your children, who you love, love each other. Her brother’s offer to help in her time of need was nothing short of an act of love. He had nothing to gain. No 17-year-old boy is desperate to put on a hat with a big feather and wear a Shakespearean coat and cape, yet he did, for his sister. And if that’s not the definition of love, I don’t know what is. On the night of the play, as the double doors in the auditorium swung open and everyone gasped as my daughter appeared as the queen, tears once again flooded my eyes. Not for her beauty, though she was beautiful, but for the sweet, selfless love my son was pouring out on his sister as he carefully helped her navigate the long walkway. And I wonder if this the same reaction God has to us. We are all God’s children. He loves each one of us dearly. And He wants us to love one another in return. So, when we do, when we put aside our own wants and needs and show love to someone else, I wonder if God feels the same way I did. I can confidently say that seeing your children love each other is like nothing else, truly a slice of heaven on Earth, and I m pretty sure that’s exactly what God wants. Each of us showing love to one another, putting aside our own selfish thoughts and desires, let your kingdom come, on Earth, as it is in heaven.