God’s Sister: Reflections on What Makes Someone a Sister

This is a guest post by my sister, the Rev. Susan Joy Huizenga, who donated her kidney to Buddi on September 12, 2016. Related posts are archived here.

Photo Credit: Dan Davis Photography, Grand Rapids, MI

I visited my new sister Buddi yesterday. We enjoyed ourselves. Her grandson, Samar, 18 months old, acts as if he likes me. Buddi says “He loves you. He senses our connection.”

A year ago Buddi and I were just beginning to bond after dual major surgeries that dramatically changed both our lives. I donated my left kidney to her, and Buddi went from a dreary existence on dialysis to the picture of health you see here. The exposed scars on her arm are from dialysis. (My health remains fine.)

Buddi stated: “I think about it [the surgery] all the time. People in Nepal who have kidney disease, they die. Here, in the US, they die. To get a kidney, it is so rare.” She said that many people in Nepal know about us and talk about it. And she does get tired sometimes, because of the medicine she must take to keep her kidney healthy.

“What can I do for you, Susan?”

I did not immediately respond to this question. ?I didn’t know what to say. Even though Buddi’s English is excellent and she continues to take classes, communication is not flawless. I take extra care with what I say and how I say it.

Toward the end of our time together, I simply stated “You asked me what you can do for me. This is my answer. Live as well as you can. Do what you want. Education. Taking care of your family. Enjoy every moment. You know how precious life is, so don’t waste one moment. That will make me happy.”

Buddi gave her most beatific smile. She asked me what is the term for your brother-in-law’s sister. I replied sister-in-law, and a discussion followed. In Nepal, it would be simply sister. We discussed at some length the distinction between blood relation and relationships established through marriage, and how that gets expressed in language.

As I was getting ready to leave, a young relative arrived, the sister-in-law, who was getting a ride to work from Buddi. I overheard Buddi speaking to her in Nepalese, and then she introduced me. “This is Susan, God’s sister.”

I laughed, almost hysterically, at the perfection of the phrase.

I had three sisters when I was born. Now I have four sisters, perhaps many more. There are sisters due to sharing a parent. There are sisters created by a marriage. There are sisters created by circumstances. We are God’s sisters.


2 responses to “God’s Sister: Reflections on What Makes Someone a Sister”

  1. Jane Kelso Winter Avatar
    Jane Kelso Winter

    Loved your recent article in Sojourners. Very powerful.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jane! That essay was excerpted from my memoir, Ruined, which you might also appreciate.

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