Marissa is the only girl cousin I got to grow up with! (I have another fantastic older girl cousin who always lived in Colorado and now lives in France, amazing!). Marissa and I were the only 2 girls of the grandkids on my mom’s side. She is Aunt Sandy’s daughter and first child and the older sister of Jacob and Zack (they’ll get shoutouts in a post soon too). We’re first cousins by birth, but have always been sisters at heart. She’s married to the perfect match for her and they live about 2 hours a way from me. We don’t get to hang out as much in this season of life as we did in the past, but the sister-like bond remains! And though we have spent our entire lives being besties, apparently we had a rocky start.
I’ve been told this story a million times, but I have no recollection of it at all. Naturally since I was so close to Aunt Sandy when I was little (and forever), I was excited when she was having a baby. Apparently my excitement faded the day she told me what she was going to name her. She says that I wept when she told me my new cousin’s name was going to be Marissa. They said there was a girl in my class named Marissa that reportedly was mean to me and I was devastated by the name choice. I pleaded and begged Aunt Sandy not to name her that, but she did anyway. I think any worries I must have had about Marissa being evil must had dissipated quickly because we’ve been posing in happy pictures together since she was an infant.
Obviously we were together A LOT. I’m four years older than her, but as soon as she could walk and talk age difference didn’t matter. Most of our family members live within walking distance of one another, and I pretty much walked to Aunt Sandy’s house any day I could. Marissa and I were OBSESSED with Disney princesses. She was always Ariel and I was always Cinderella. Fun fact: I used to want to have a Disney Princess wedding hahaha. Marissa helped me plan it many times. All my bridesmaids were going to be Disney princesses and Marissa, the maid of honor of course, was either going to dye her hair red and be Ariel or because of long brown hair and olive skin was going to be Pocahontas.
We spent lots of hours watching the Disney Channel. We made Aunt Sandy record Days of Our Lives for us (until Marlena was possessed, then we quit that show). We were majorly obsessed with High School Musical (and yes, I was probably in college by then). We were in dance together, though I should say Marissa was in dance, I just went to class and participated in recitals and stunk. She was REALLY good. I quit after 4 years and she stuck with it a while longer. It paid off too because she was also an excellent member of the flag team in community college and got a nice scholarship for it! Even our Barbies were friends! And we usually had coordinating, or at least really cute, Halloween costumes! My mom used to sew a lot and made Halloween costumes and Aunt Sandy used to be a makeup lady and always did our makeup. We were adorbs!
I went to Copiah Lincoln Community College. She went to Copiah Lincoln Community College. I went to Mississippi College. She went to Mississippi College. We never got to go to either of these places together, but it’s another bond we share! Riss is super smart and always has been. She’s a teacher and great with kids. Side note to say I think teachers are super heroes. What you do is hard, exhausting, you don’t get paid enough, and you aren’t appreciated enough, but I see you! You’re all heroes in my book. In addition to being smart, she’s also beautiful! She’s always been better at makeup than me, she has great hair, great skin, and she’s just gorgeous (I told you, we have good genes!). She has a tender heart and always has. She cares deeply about the world and her people. She also has the best laugh and an even better laughing face. I can’t see her laughing and not laugh too.
As I mentioned earlier, she’s married to a great guy – Mark. We all love Mark and he fits into our family flawlessly! I love lots of things about Mark, but what I love most about him (aside from how much he loves my sister cousin) is how much he loves Marissa’s little brothers/my little cousins (who aren’t little at all anymore). He is SO great with Jacob and Zack and I love that. Marissa and Mark have a cute little house with a cute little dog named Henry. They both love Jesus fiercely and are continually and evidently growing. Mark really is perfect for Marissa and she’s grown so much because of him! I’m proud of the way he supports her and how bold she’s become in standing up for herself and others as they’ve thrived in their marriage. And she was a gorgeous bride! I got to be her maid-of-honor, cried the day she asked me, and SOBBED all through the perfect union of two imperfect people joined together by a perfect God.
Another great story that has to be told is the day Marissa found her wedding dress. In an effort to save money, Rissa’s plan was to order a dress online. We went dress “shopping” just so she could try on dresses to get an idea of what size to order. We picked dresses in a similar style to the one she found online for her to try on. They were all beautiful, but nothing magical. We still supported her decision to order online. And then… She tried on THE dress. It was one of those classic magical movie moments where we all three looked in the mirror and teared up. It was out of her budget, but we all vowed to find other ways to cut cost because none of us could say goodbye to that dress. And as if it wasn’t already perfect enough, the bridal shop lady told us it was in a line inspired by Disney princesses. The name of the dress was Ariel. Teary eyes released their tears and we all cried. (I actually wrote a blog post inspired by the moment once.)
My favorite memory from this year happened in May. I acquired Taylor Swift concert tickets and knew that Marissa was one of the only people who wouldn’t judge how excited I would be and the crying I would do. It was hot. We sweated a lot. My feet and back were hurting like crazy. We didn’t get home until 2 am. We both decided we were too old for concerts. BUT IT WAS WORTH IT! And we’d do it again. It was magical and perfect and I’m so glad we got to share it together!
We’ve been through a lot together. Good, bad, and ugly (including both of our awkward middle school stages). We’ve laughed until we’ve cried endless times. We’ve cried until we’ve laughed probably just as much. We’ve fought (you do this with heart sisters, it just happens!). I’ve probably bossed her around way too often in our lifetime. We’ve gone too long without being intentional to catch up WAY too many times. But we are and will forever be heart sisters. I know she will always be there any time I need her. I know she prays for me. She knows I pray for her. She’ll be there standing right beside me the day I get married too.I’ll be one of the first people in the waiting room for every kid she has and vice versa. And maybe one day we’ll get to make our kids fold our clothes and wear coordinating Halloween costumes too. I love you Riss!
This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.