When I was younger I sometimes felt like I was in the shadow of my older brother and sister. Russ is a smart and talented and likeable guy — I told you, he’s probably a superhero! And my sister, Dodi, is beautiful and the life of the party and it feels like everybody loves her. They were both excellent tennis players who did well in school, and as I followed them through the ranks of High School and university (and didn’t quite have those tennis skills, mayhaps) I sometimes felt like a small fry in a Big Mac shadow.

“Little Dodi” or “Little Dot” or “Little Darrow” were common nicknames that followed me into my twenties. I’ve just realised you might not even know Darrow is my maiden name! Whoa! I can remember being little and laughing at my grandmother saying “Ru-Duh-Caroline!” as she struggled to finally arrive at the name she was looking for to call me.

I suppose without realising it I kind of stepped out of the Big Mac shadow when I left North Carolina. No one in Scotland seemed aware of my awesome older siblings (until they came to visit and were the life of the party again!) and since I was in my early twenties in a new country, I feel like it was a season of figuring out who I am, outside the box of where I’ve come from and whose I am.

Today someone emailed Mark and me an encouragement after receiving one of our ministry newsletters. (We send ’em out via email every month, so let me know if you’d like to receive them.) She ended by saying

“I’m so happy and proud of ‘Baby Darrow’ (and I’m not talking about cute Asher-ha!)”

For some reason, those words almost brought me to tears. Actually they did. They really did. Being away from home often means wishing someone was around who knows who you are. And whose you are. You wish you had some folks around who’ve known you for more than six months — people who remember that beat up Escort wagon you drove for your first car, and the guy you dated in high school that you probably shouldn’t have. You long for people who’ve walked up your driveaway (it’s up a hill) and sat at your Mama’s kitchen table. Because those things are such an integral part of you that you can’t fully explain, you can’t give them the pictures. They can’t see the Pamlico River at sunset or smell the Bill’s Hot Dogs you skipped school for. I told you I probably shouldn’t have dated that boy! They don’t know the trails where you rode your bike to the swimming pool every day all summer long, and they can’t hear the side door slam or the peaceful sound of cars passing on Christmas Eve while luminaries light up the streets around your neighbourhood.

But today, thanks to the amazing power of a few words typed in passing and whisked across the internet, a simple message from an old family friend meant for a moment I got to be Baby Darrow again. And I suddenly realised that’s a shadow I wish could follow me everywhere I go.


P.S. As I was finding a few pictures for this post, the Bear woke up from his nap and came to see what I was up to. He spotted a picture of Dodi and said, “Doe!” It’s good to think he’ll learn my shadow someday, and perhaps leave one of his own. And btw, photo credit for that lovely first shot belongs to Lindsay Lee Hartsell.