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Joyful Living

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My family was about as normal as it could be. One brother, a dog, two parents, a nice house in the suburbs, just your average American family. Until Joy entered my life. It started with subtle hints like a, “Mollie, would you be interested in a sister?” from my mom or a, “How would you feel about an older sibling?” from my dad. At first, I thought nothing of them and just blew them off. Until one day, about two years ago, my dad told us. Her name was Joy. She was sixteen and had three younger siblings. Their family was American but had been living in Kabul, Afghanistan as aid workers for the past 14 years. Joy spoke English as her first language and fluent Dari. Her parents knew my dad from missionary training very well. And oh ya, she was going to be living with us.

At first, I was fairly indifferent towards it. Among other emotions, I was excited for an older sister for a couple years but also completely unprepared for a change this drastic. My brother, on the other hand, was exuberant for the addition. He prayed every night that she would like living with us. Then that summer, she came.

True to her name, Joy, sweet as she was, was not your typical sixteen year old girl. Having lived in Afghanistan most of her life, her sense of fashion wasn’t... well, your typical sixteen year old girl fashion sense. I remember the first time we went shopping, she was appalled at how many tight shirts and skinny jeans there were and instead bought a corduroy jumpsuit that was olive colored, reminded me of something a four year old would wear to get dirty and was frankly, ugly. Thrift stores, to this day, are much preferred by her over Aeropostale, Forever 21, or any other teen shopping hot spot.

Throughout her stay, my dad and Joy weren’t the best of friends. She was independent and didn’t like accepting advice from others. My dad took it upon himself to be her go-to-guy, which didn’t go over well with her. Riley, my brother, who had prayed endlessly for her to come, was now seen as nothing more than an annoying little boy. She thought my mom was nice, but compared to her mom (aka Mother Theresa) there was basically nothing to compare. Except that besides our differences, Joy liked me. The one person in the entire house who hadn’t looked forward to her arrival, happened to be the one she liked. Irony? Maybe. Lucky? Ha!

She smiled way too much. And she made me want to throw up with her outfits. Her grandma was constantly calling us making sure we were taking good care of her. And I loathed her annoying, squeaky laugh. I didn’t like her. The second half of her first year with us was a nightmare. Tension grew between us until we practically glared at each other more than we talked. Besides, you could tell she was annoyed my family didn’t make more of an effort to please her. Then, as quickly as she had come, she left. Over the summer, I found that to my surprise, I missed hearing the squeak of the basement door open and I missed jumping on the trampoline and talking about The Bachelor or Dancing With the Stars or just having girl talk. But most of all, I missed Joy. In spite of the pain she was, I had grown to love her. When she came back this year, she and I laughed at her corduroy jumpsuit. I was cheered by her never-ending smile, and we laughed and rolled our eyes every time her grandma called. And I loved her laugh. We were, and are, just a normal family, living with Joy.



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