Simple Kindness

By Laura Edwards

I have worried so much about my sister lately – for all of the regular reasons, of course, but also because she’s in the sixth grade. Middle school was tough for me. My awkward stage dragged on for about three years. I liked to play soccer and build forts in the woods and play video games and wear t-shirts and jeans – not exactly the ticket to popularity for a girl going through puberty. It wasn’t until much later that I realized most of my classmates were going through their own confused versions of growing up. This year, I’ve watched T face all of the normal challenges an 11-year-old girl faces in addition to the challenges of losing her vision and fighting Batten disease. She’s done it with a smile on her face – and unlike her big sister, she’s never been too afraid to follow her heart.

A few weeks ago, several of Taylor’s friends dreamed up the idea to have a fundraiser at school for Taylor’s Tale. They got approval from the powers that be. They organized and promoted it.

Last Friday was the big day. T’s classmates paid a dollar to wear pajamas to school. Several of the girls’ moms made popcorn in advance, and the girls sold snacks during lunch. At the end of the school day, T’s friends handed my mom a bulging envelope decorated with sticky notes that told the story: the kids had raised nearly $500.

That night, the girls and their moms hit uptown Charlotte for girls’ night out, featuring dinner and a play. It wasn’t until much later that Mom and T returned home, where T put on her pink and orange polka dot pjs for the second time that day and climbed into bed. She went to sleep exhausted but happy.

I want to thank everyone who had a hand in what turned out to be a great day for Taylor’s Tale and the fight for a cure for Batten disease. Most of all, though, I want to thank the girls who take care of my sister the five days a week they’re all in school and whose love lifts her up on the days they’re apart. Sometimes, the greatest act of all is simple kindness.

Dancing in the Stars

By Laura Edwards

Taylor went to her first school dance on Friday night. Decked out in a sparkly pink and purple top adorned with dream catchers over a denim skirt, chocolate tights and Ugg boots, my sister spent two hours on the arm of her date, Scott. And since parents were strictly forbidden from the school grounds during the dance by the sixth graders, I was the lucky girl who got to spend a Friday evening as a fly on the wall (the only fly in the world that can operate a digital camera and camcorder), there only if Taylor needed help (she didn’t).

Having never attended a dance with a date until my junior prom when I was 17, I got to bear witness, via my much younger sister, the best parts of ‘crushing’ on a boy pre-high school (and all of the attending drama). The smiles on Taylor’s face said everything. There were no teen-charged mixed signals to analyze: she had the time of her life. And there, in the Fletcher School’s cafeteria with ’80s music playing in the background and neon deejay lights painting the air, the fly on the wall was having the time of its life, too – holding assorted cell phones for pre-teens, catching the scenery on camera and bottling up the dream catcher girl’s courage and her date’s kindness for the days to come.