Jess has seven siblings, and he's the oldest. Their ages span from 33 to 16. Among the kids, there are vast differences and commonalities. Personalities from one to another are sometimes identical, sometimes polar opposites. And yet, these siblings are as bonded and as loyal to one another as you could ever imagine. The Cheney children are knit together with bonds of love unbreakable. I have been so very blessed to come from these kinds of bonds myself and then to marry into them as well. So blessed.
The middle sibling - Whitney - is the glue that holds them all together. She is always loving, always selfless. She never puts her needs first, always seeking first to serve. I don't think she puts any thought into it either. It's just what she does. She loves with her whole heart, always and constantly. She never says no, even when perhaps she should. She sacrifices time and sleep to make sure everyone in her reach is safe and happy and loved.
She is each sibling's best friend. Each of them find in her the friend they need, the listening ear, the ever constant help in a crisis. As a married-in sister, you might think I'd be excluded from this friendship, but no. Truly, Whitney is among the best of my friends. She has saved me more times than my hands have fingers to count. She and I have shared the deepest of belly laughs and filled some of the best and most ridiculous memories.
My girls are extraordinarily lucky to have Super Aunts on both sides, and Whitney is most definitely among them. She has such a calm about her that babies are instantly soothed when she rocks them. She loves each of them almost as her own. Annabelle has a particular affinity for her, and indeed Whitney has always treated her as her friend. Her best friend. With Whitney's patient love and gentle encouragement, Annabelle's tumbling tricks have turned into legitimate skills. She's always there to hear Annabelle's drawn-out monologues and she does the coolest flip trick with her repeatedly, without end sometimes, allowing Annabelle to use her as a personal jungle gym. Whitney is her friend and her champion, always.
Just this afternoon, Whitney entered the Missionary Training Center in preparation to serve an eighteen month mission in Korea for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She's no longer just our sister. She's a sister. A sister missionary. I cannot think of a single person better suited to serve and love people of a different world and culture than our Whitney. They are so lucky, and I know she will serve and love each and every person she meets just the way she does us.
Our Sister Cheney is one extraordinary sister - here and abroad. We are so unbelievably proud of her and grateful for her example. Belle and I shared some giant alligator tears last night as we contemplated eighteen months without our friend, but then we talked about how lucky the people in Korea were, to have her as their friend too. We decided we could share her. (But just for a little while.) We talked about how lucky they were to learn about Jesus from Whitney. We talked about how she would love us always and be back before we knew it.
My sweet Whitney, God be with you. You will be missed every day, but you will be championed just the same. Our prayers and our love are with you every. Single. Second. And we are incredibly proud of you. Thank you for loving us and for loving people you haven't even met yet. We love you. Totes. :)