My Sister is Officially Homeless

Marla Sarris, Ed Ceaser, Amanda Ceaser, Hannah Ceaser, Gina Ceaser Elmhurst College Graduation

A little over two weeks ago my little sister Amanda became the second person in our family ever to graduate from college, and not just any college, Elmhurst College – my (and Jeff’s) alma mater! Today she and her boyfriend Jake are starting their drive halfway across the country to Montana, where they are moving. She’s starting her life (after school) one step at a time. First step: making the decision to move! After she arrives she’ll be figuring out all the rest, including where she’ll be living. It’s the first time in her life she can actually say she’s officially homeless. (Not that she won’t have a wonderful place to stay with friends once she arrives, she just won’t have her new home until she finds it.)

There’s been multiple times my sister has left home. She’s one to go out and help those in need, whenever she can. She’s her own definition of a philanthropist. She’s done multiple mission trips to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. She’s gone to Biloxi, Cedar Rapids, Nashville, San Diego and New Mexico with the Elmhurst College chapter of Habitat for Humanity or on church mission trips. Last January she took a J-term course in India and came home with many questions about life, I imagine some still unanswered.

Prior to college she visited South Africa with the Glen Ellyn Children’s Choir; touring the land, meeting new people, and of course singing. Of all the times she’s left home, there was always a set return date. Not so much this time. She’s leaving home. She’s an adult now and I will definitely miss her. A phone call or email is slightly different from a quick drive to the next town over. Even though it doesn’t happen often it’s not like I can call and say “let’s run to go dress shopping”. Last week we went to get our nails done together, which in the past was a semi-regular occurrence. The owner of the nail salon knows us from having visited numerous times before, and having my entire bridal party go there for my wedding. Even though we haven’t been in there in a while, Vivian always asks how Amanda is. This time she was able to tell Vivian herself.

If we were comparing life to a play, Amanda has been cast in many different lead roles in her life. The supporting characters have always been there, changing, alternating, and cycling back again. I could say the same for myself. We’ve led different lives, even though they started on the same day. When I was 7 years old my birthday present was Amanda. She was almost born at exactly the same time, a little over an hour difference. Aside from sharing our birthday’s, we’ve shared friends, and numerous events, trips & memories and even shared a bedroom the majority of our life. While I grew up a baton twirler she grew up as an ice skater, but we both were involved in Girl Scouts. Now she’s starting a new chapter of her life.

I have read blogs about people making huge life decisions. Impossible decisions, decisions regarding debt, decisions about jobs, decisions about health and decisions to travel, heck we have our own travel site, but never has there been someone in MY life who has made the big decision to up and move away, especially someone as close to me as my sister. At first I didn’t know how to react. I was mad she was leaving. I felt sad she wouldn’t be right around the corner anymore. I felt selfish for wanting to keep her here – and things not to change. I felt happy she made the decision to make a change and see it through, rather than sticking around because that’s just what you do after graduation. I was scared for her because she doesn’t have too much of a plan set. Having plans is not always a necessity, but I’ve been in the mind-set that it is for so long. I was excited for what her future holds. But most of all I’m proud of all of her accomplishments and that I can say, “hey look at that girl, see her over there? That’s my sister!” And she’s like my twin, just 7 years younger. (You know, my mom just held her in for 7 years, to the day, so we’d be able to share birthdays with each other.)” And I know she’s going to go off and do great things in the mountains, it’s just hard to have to say good-bye, for any amount of time.

Life after college for me didn’t seem to change much. For the last 28 years I’ve always been on some type of a school schedule: elementary school, middle school, high school, college, then back to high school (just as a teacher this time) but all the same type of schedule. It’s not until I pulled myself out of the school atmosphere that my life seemed to change and come together. I pulled out of the norm and started to live. I’m excited for Amanda in the fact that she’s not postponing her life…she’s pushing forward. I’m also glad that she’s done with the stress of mandatory education, and can choose to learn whatever she’d like on her own time. I’m definitely looking forward to what comes next in the Montana chapter of her life. Once she & Jake have set up shop with their new home we’ll definitely be heading out to visit. :)