In case you missed it, the entirety of this blog is dedicated to my better half. Familiarize here 🙂
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My baby sister is packing up her life and moving to Okinawa today.
Read: I’m going to be on hiatus for a few days to digest this.
Growing up, Stef has always been a fearless little thing. She would chase bugs around the house (and almost eat them), speak her mind (…sort of a picky eater), and had zero qualms about bossing around her big sister. (‘Big’ is relative, since we’ve probably been around the same height since… forever.) I pretty much had a hard time discerning who I should be more afraid of: my dad, the disciplinarian, or my sister, my best friend and someone I never wanted to be mad at me. As kids, she had low tolerance for my crying.
As a kid, I would cry all the time! It’s sort of blurred memory now, remembering who got us in trouble more: the spunky sister or the sobbing one.
When I was a little older, I realized that our actions – and reactions – were ways we were telling each other ‘I love you.’ They were saying ‘I’m not afraid to be myself around you,’ and ‘I never want to see you upset.’ You know, the bond between sisters is pretty phenomenal – and the one I have with my own sister truly takes the cake. Unique in its own way, it’s best described as us being so different, but exactly the same.
This is partially attributed to the fact that for a long time, my parents dressed us exactly the same. But you know, every now and then they would let us be individuals (read: same dress, different color). Even today, we are still asked the same question when introducing ourselves to new faces: Are you two twins? We would smile and respond,
‘Do you have eyes!?’ ‘Nope!’
However, when we hit that preteen stage, it became very clear that we were very different people (read, she was an athlete and I was a obsessive Harry Potter fan bookworm). We had our own set of friends and focused on different lifestyles. As tennis players, she chose to focus on her game while I opted to stay mediocre so that I could have a fuller social life.
At one point down the road, we even sort of lost each other. I had started caring too much about my friends, my social circle, and who I thought I was becoming. In fact, she and I even stopped talking. I kept telling myself, it’s because you’re different. She doesn’t understand you and she never will.
Little did I know, my sister was already exemplifying a level of maturity that I had yet to grasp. Then she threw us all a curveball and decided to experience her undergrad years at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. This decision was huge; especially for a family that is very proud to be American (read, the only house in our complex with a flag hanging outside our front door) and especially for a silly girl who liked glitter. But it was from here on out that things started to change: we both grew up; and reconnecting with her has seriously been my biggest highlight in life. It was when we became adults that I could see how truly similar we are – the way we love, our drive, importance we place on family – and how linked sisters can be. Honestly, half the time Stef calls, I would already be waiting impatiently with a gut feeling that something was going on with her, wherever she was.
Sometimes, I think we were meant to hit that rough patch because at some point, we had to learn how to stand on our own, without each other.
It might be a little cliché to call her my best friend, but until a more fitting title surfaces, this will have to do. She is the brightest light in my life – constantly motivating me to be a better me, showing me how to soldier on and be strong, and teaching me how to love myself. You never leave a conversation with her feeling less than inspired (complete with a GOGET’EM attitude), whether it be through her words of encouragement or just hearing about what she has done in the last few years.
As a Naval Academy graduate, Stef is currently a 2nd Lieutenant in the MARINE CORPS – my baby sister, a Marine! After finishing her time in Annapolis, she relocated to Quantico, VA for basic marine training for 6 months, and then was stationed in North Carolina learning how to be a Logistician. And now here we are, sitting at home in Milpitas, California. Here we are, sitting in a disastrous display of open luggage, laundry, and knick knacks, where our sisterhood began, figuring out how to say, see you later, sis.
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In 2012, the Tons went to a USNA dinner to honor our own Marine and her peers. Each had a family member, friend, or mentor come up to the podium to speak on behalf of their accomplishments. Two years later, my words still stand true and resolute.
Sis, you are truly one of a kind and I cannot wait to see all the milestones you tackle next! Don’t forget who you are, what you stand for, and please don’t lose faith in yourself & what you’re doing – the rest will fall into place. Most of all, be safe. Love you more than words can ever express.
Anyone who knows my sister understands that “Stef” is synonymous with anything and everything that’s cute, sparkly, and pink. So when the Academy took an interest in her, we thought, no way in hell would she say yes.
However, besides being cute, sparkly, and pink herself, I have always known that my sister single-handedly embodies the concept of STRENGTH, better than anyone else. Willing to move 3,000 miles away from home, thrust into an entirely new lifestyle, she has truly broken the mold – she can not only outrun you on the O course or a marathon and make it look easy, but she can do it with mascara and a perfect manicure.
She excels in the classroom, recently making the Superintendent’s List this past Fall, and is also a Squad Leader in her company. She has demonstrated leadership not only among her peers, but on the court as well – currently captaining the tennis team, among fellow Firsties who were also members of the first ever women’s team in history.
She is an exceptional hard worker, refusing to cut corners and exhibits impeccable discipline in all aspects of her life – characteristics, I believe, of a true Marine.
Please join me in celebrating the accomplishments of the most gorgeous, best sister any girl could ever have. Congratulations, Stef! ⚓