Stories that Matter

Soul Deep


I never knew I had a sister.

Never grew up with a brother or a sister. Just a lot of dolls, a cat, two dogs and a hell of an imagination.

I was never really lonely. When friends were scarce, I made them up. Funny that. I think I started making up stories from around age three or so. Fairies lived in the dark holes beyond the trees. Elves danced around strange circles of stones we’d find in the bottom of our garden. Dew on chilly winter mornings was simply leftover fairy dust.

My mother was a story teller. I wish I’d realized it before now. Wish I’d sat by her side a little longer. Wish I’d asked her to tell me just one more story. One more tale from days gone by. Of course I couldn’t have known back then, a child at her knee, what the telling of those tales would someday mean to me. Couldn’t know that the magical story of how she met my father on a ship in the middle of some ocean sailing from London to Johannesburg at some point in time long before I was born–how they met and spent the majority of that passage together, and fell in love, even though she was engaged to be married–oh, I couldn’t know what stories that would spark in my mind. What true love might look like to me someday, years away.


It was only as I began to tell stories of my own, the ones I made up from the depths of the crazy imagination that got me into so much trouble in my younger days, that I realized the importance of those soul deep connections.

My mother and I were never connected by blood. I was adopted at 21 days old. Our family trees would never cross paths genetically. Oh, but God doesn’t care squat about My mother and I were connected through a carefully woven, hand-spun thread that spanned years and countries. I believe it was in the making before I even took my first breath.

If I’d known then how little time I’d actually have with this woman who took me home and made me her own, I wouldn’t have wasted a minute of it. But I didn’t know and I lived precariously as the young do. Reckless, without much thought as to how my actions might affect those who loved me best.

Until one day you’re thirty-two years old and you’re burying your mother and trying to stop your five year-old from falling into the freshly dug grave. I don’t remember much from that day, but I do remember that.

And then, a year or two or three later, this astounding discovery comes.

I have a sister.

Flesh and blood and breathing, and very, very real.

And she wants to know me.

We’re into eleven years of knowing each other now, yet those first few weeks, that first email, that first conversation, the first time I looked her in the eyes and wanted to bust out crying but didn’t….it could be yesterday.

Soul deep.


That connection God gave me with my Mom, the mother He chose for me…I found it there too, with my sister. Immediately. And He knew I would. Crazy, right?

We don’t think so. We know what it is and where it comes from. You can call it karma or good vibes or whatever the heck you want to…but I’m happy going with the God thing.

Think about what it feels like to sit in the dark. Power outage. Nothing works. And the frustration builds. You’re hot or cold and there’s really nothing to do. You’re missing  Dancing With The Stars for crap’s sake! And don’t even talk about all the emails you’re not getting or the status updates you might not catch on Facebook. Fluffy the Cat finally farted. (Yeah, I said that).

But then the lights come on. Relief floods through you and you grin like an idiot for no real reason except for the fact that you feel connected again. Connected. That’s the best word I can come up with for what it felt like the day I met my sister. But it was more than that. It was like…all those years we’d been apart…never knowing the other existed…somehow we did. Soul Deep. Connected through the Spirit.

We were.

And that’s part of my story. Part of the vault I dip into when I write from the heart. When I sift through emotions and feelings like rejection, abandonment, despair, confusion…I dig a little deeper and find hope. Hope that lifts the spirit from those dark and dangerous depths. Hope that breaks down barriers, heals the hurt and provides joy in simply being. Here. Today. Together. I know that joy. I also know that pain. And I know soul deep connection. It doesn’t come along often. Maybe once a decade. You might find it in your spouse. Your best friend. Your daughter or son. Or you might find it in a sister you never knew you had.

I’ve found it a few times.

Maybe you have too.

Or maybe you’re still looking. But you know…don’t look too hard.

What you seek might be right in front of you.



  1. Jeanne Takenaka on June 6, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Cathy, this is such a beautiful post. You’re right. Those soul-deep connections don’t come along very often. I love that you and your sister are soul-deep. That is truly a blessing. My mother and I are very close. I have a few friends who know me deep, and my husband does. Thanks for sharing this. I always appreciate your perspective.

    • Cathy West on June 6, 2014 at 9:39 am

      Jeanne, thanks for reading! Yes, I am very blessed. She’s my miracle gift, no doubt. 🙂

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on June 6, 2014 at 1:00 am

    Cathy, I am so happy for you, and truly appreciate the sacred quality of those connections, the way they train us for accepting Grace.

    I come to this from another angle, one of almost terminal disconnection. Childhood was a bad trip (in the 60s meaning), and high school was where I learned to fight.

    Later, the people I got close to got killed (including the woman who carried my child), and I learned to survive by always staying outside, so to speak. I was comfortable in power failures; I felt at home.

    Dogs and Buddhism were what kept me sane. I could relate to dogs, even those that were red-line behavior problems. And Buddhism provided a measure of peace, without the implicit demand that I forgive people I would sooner personally send to Hell. (Also, being Asian, I felt more at home with my own people.)

    In time, I learned that there really are people who almost match a dog’s love and loyalty. And I learned that the Jesus that I saw as a prissy judge was my own invention. The real JC was and IS a shrewd, tough-minded Jewish guy who would have come down pretty hard, Himself, on the people who made my childhood what it should not have been. To paraphrase Richard Bach, people fry quick, struck by lightning.

    Becoming connected again for the very first time is an ongoing process, and being here, in this comment-space, is a huge part of it. I’m choosing to be honest in addressing the post’s subject, because it’s the right thing to do…

    …and because friends are honest, and I want, even at this remove, to be your friend.

    • Cathy West on June 6, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Andrew, I’m glad you’re connecting. It’s not always easy, like you said, but the rewards are great. 🙂

  3. Megan DiMaria on June 6, 2014 at 1:09 am

    Lovely story written with beautiful words! Thanks for sharing.

    • Cathy West on June 6, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Megan, thanks for stopping by and reading!

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