Sometime during law school, my sister Jessi - whose full name is Jessica by the way. This will matter later in the story.- texted her best pal Jessika and I about a football game that was making us nuts. I don't remember if it was my first or second year, but I do remember that it was football season because Jessi said that it would be easier for the three of us to have this conversation in one group because she was basically repeating herself. Since that day, we've talked about everything in between.
....except not so much.
The Committee roots go back to 1994.
If you don't recall 1994, let me refresh your memory. In 1994, Bill Clinton was president. Nancy Kerrigan had her knee hit by Tonya Harding's people. OJ Simpson ran away from the cops in his Bronco in a "high speed" chase. The songs "Cotton-Eye Joe" by Rednex and "I Swear" by All-4-One were all the rage.
But what you need to know is that in August of that year, two little girls named Jessica and Jessika were in Mrs. Riley's first grade class.
(There also was a girl named Samantha in the 4th grade, but today really isn't about her. But since you'd probably like a reference of where I was in the story, there you go. I was in the 4th grade. It was the year of glasses and my first time with braces.)
(Now you know why I'd rather focus on the Jessic/ka's. Braces and glasses are a tragic time in any girl's life.)
Our momma is a school teacher, so our afternoons look different than some kids. Instead of going home after school, we went to our momma's room, got our snack and then waited for our mom to be done for the day before heading home. Since it was the beginning of the school year, the wait wasn't terribly long that day. But we still had time to talk about our classes and what we thought.
Jessi went on and on about how she liked her class and her teacher, but mostly she talked about a girl named Jessika spelled with a K. Meeting someone with your name is not as big a novelty as one might think, especially when you had super popular 80s names like Jessi and I did. (There were 6 Samantha's in my class alone.) But it was Jessi's first time to meet another Jessica and her mind was blown that she spelled it with a K.
We soon began to hear stories about Jessika spelled with a K on the regular.
Now what you don't know about The Committe is that there are two honorary members: our mommas. Occasionally, when discussing the latest scuttle, it is quicker and certainly more entertaining if we just include them as well. (The entertainment part comes from laughing at how long it takes the mommas to text us back.)
At some point, our moms met. I'm not entirely sure on the details, but what I do know is that Lori and Karen, our mom and Jessika's mom respectively, have been friends almost as long as the Jessic/ka's have been friends.
And our daddies (Butch and Dick) have been friends only a little time less than our mommas have.
I hope you're following along who is who because there will be a quiz later.
(Okay. Not really.)
I should probably mention that Jessika has an older sister named Kari. Again, this story isn't about her or I, but just so you know that Jessika isn't an only child. And also so you get the big picture.
1994 was a hard year for Jessi and I. Our beloved Pappaw had been diagnosed with cancer. In early 1995, he succumbed to that cancer. But Jessika with a K and her family didn't miss a beat and were right there with us. 1994 was also a year of transition. We had been unhappy with our church for some time. In summer of 1995, we finally decided that it was time for a fresh start and we began going where Jessika and her family went.
The body of Christ is a wonderful thing and I don't ever know if Jessika and her family knew how much of an influence they had on our joining the church. But they did.
Mom and Karen bonded over having two girls, a love for craft fairs, girl talk, similar hair cuts and the trials and triibulations of getting the hair stylist to listen to them, and a love for good shop til you drop session at the mall in Tulsa. They have shared similar tastes and are known for showing up to church wearing the same outfit having never called one another. They both are extremely generous with their love and have taught me on more than one occasion including as recent as this year, that forgiveness should always be freely given.
Dad and Dick share a love of music, films, and motorcycles and old cars. They are stoic, known to remain calm when Lori and Karen are in a tizzy, and I count them among the wisest men I know.
I'm sure if you're a long time reader, you'll notice that I haven't mentioned Loren and Will yet. Well, don't you worry, Jessika and her family were there for that too. In fact, Karen took mom to the doctor the day before Loren and Will were born. Mom was on bed rest towards the end with them and so Karen helped with doctor's appointments when dad couldn't make it. The doctor wanted to do a c-section that day, but I'm fairly certain between Lori and Karen, that doctor got a "what for" lecture that he probably remembers to this day. When we talk about Loren and Will's entry to this world, it always starts with the nastiest thunderstorm the day before and Karen driving Momma up there in it. Then Karen driving momma home in it after they told the doctor that Mom didn't have any of her stuff with her, her family wasn't there, and most importantly Butch wasn't there. Mom would be fine and if anything went wrong, they'd be back to Tulsa that night no problem because they were experienced at making that drive, thankyouverymuch. Loren and Will were born the next day and of course, Karen, Kari, and Jessika were there to say hello to the newest members of the gang/troup.
That's how it's always been, all the way up to that fateful day when Jessi finally sent the group text.
Our familes have been together through grade school, junior high, babies, high school, boys (good and bad), college, Phi Lamb (membership and officer years), moves across country, graduations, weddings, law school, graduate school, finding Jessi a dude, football season after football season, Alzheimer's, betrayals, and the bar.
They're a constant in our lives and vice versa. I know that we can all count on one another to be there in "a ride or die, tough love, but loved fiercely, get after it, work hard, play hard, love Jesus and one another" kind of way.
Two nights ago, I read my first post about Lily and I cried fresh tears. But, I also realized that it's time for me to get after it. It's time for me to put on my big girl panties and make the best of my time. It's what we've been taught by our parents and what we push one another to do now. I told the committee about what I'd realized last night and the Jessic/ka's told me that they were glad to hear it. They knew I needed my time to be sad and I still have some sad and hard days ahead of me, but they also were glad to see that I was rising to the occasion and not letting the old devil defeat me.
They also told me that they would be with me, no matter what. It's what we do. We are there on the best days and on the worst days. It's what we've always done. We are family. That's what the committee is about: family and loving one another. This year more than ever with Lily and a cancer diagnosis, we've realized just how important it is to be there if that only includes sitting quietly and holding the other's hand.
And all of it is because two little girls named Jessica and Jessika met twenty years ago in the first grade.
THAT'S how the committee became The Committee.
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