Nearly ten years ago my little sister Jessi fell in love with the movie version of Phantom of the Opera. Since then her number one wish for every holiday (birthdays, Christmas, Easter, my birthday, mom's birthday and any holiday that she might get a gift) has been to see the live musical Phantom of the Opera. We constantly kept an eye out in Little Rock, St. Louis and Memphis for a performance of the play. You can even see me reference her persistent requests back in 2010 when I wrote this blog post about Jessi.
It wasn't until this Spring that I received the Orpheum's newsletter and the headline was The Phantom of the Opera comes to Memphis! I counted the days until the tickets went on sale...and guess what?! Not only was it coming - but we were going to get to see it ON Jessi's birthday!
I purchased the tickets on the first day of sales and we kept the secret for months. Even as her birthday drew near she made it known that all she wanted was to see the Phantom of the Opera. Since this was something she always asked about we knew how to let her down softly. "Sorry, Jessi... If The Phantom of the Opera comes near us we will surely go but we haven't heard anything about one this year. Maybe we can go next year." or "Sorry, Jessi. I just don't think Phantom will be here for your birthday. Maybe another time." She never gave up her dream of seeing the play and we kept up the masquerade.
It has been a pretty rough month for Jessi. A few weeks ago her laptop was stolen and due to some unforeseen expenses on both my mom and my side we were unable to replace it right away for her. Thankfully, the generosity of many friends and strangers allowed us to raise just under $200 to buy her a new Chromebook so she could get back online. That was overwhelming all in itself because it was unexpected and so very much needed.
Needless to say, we ended her birthday month on a much sweeter note.
Dear Flabby Abbi,
You are so lovely and wonderful. Your body is beautiful and you look so at home on this beach. I wish I could tell you that those words you hear every day on the bus, on the playground, at lunch won't matter and they don't mean anything. They do. Those words will stay in your mind forever. It doesn't make you weak or horrible, it makes you human. Just don't dwell in that sad place, stay bright.
Just know that one day, ten to twenty years from now, you will realize that those kids were just mean. They may one day grow up to be really incredible people and regret those words, but most of them won't even remember they hurt you so deeply. Forgive them, move on and don't believe their lies even though it's so easy to do.
Your boobs will one day be an asset. You will always be curvy, you should love that. You will marry an incredible man who makes you feel beautiful at any and every size not because of your outward beauty but for your heart, your passion and your kindness.
Don't be mad at your dad for taking this photo, you will thank him for it one day because he saw you for who you really were not how you feel in this moment. You are beautiful and beachy and awesome.