Saluting our sisters. Lisa honours her best friend.
“Thinking of this year’s Black History Month theme, Saluting our Sisters, my reflections were very personal.” Our fourth BHM blog is an uplifting story of lifelong friendship: two women who began as competitors found unshakeable strength in sisterhood.
Lisa Davis is Chief Executive, Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell. (3 mins)
Growing up with only brothers, I’ve been lucky to have some amazing women in my life, supporting, challenging and motivating me. One has been a constant presence and I would like to salute my best friend, Lesley Sheldon.
If someone had said 32 years ago that Lesley and I would one day become best friends – Maids of Honour at each other’s weddings and Godmothers to each other’s children – I would have vehemently opposed any such suggestion!
You see, Lesley was my GREATEST academic competition; the one person that would get 96% when I received 95%; the one who would say she didn’t study but would ace the test (when I studied very hard for my second place!). Best friends? Definitely not!
But somewhere along the way, through our arduous and longstanding sparring, there grew a form of respect, an acknowledgement that we could both occupy the same space and thrive in it. It’s as if we made a silent pact, a handshake that from now on we’d learn from the other and enjoy our competitive nature.
Our sisterhood began
From that moment, we saw the similarities in each other our aforementioned rivalry had blinded us to. We both loved literature, shared a love of books such as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Things Fall Apart’ and even had the same initials.
Later in life these similarities would continue with us both meeting our spouses at university, living abroad and the sequencing of our kids, two boys and a girl (with our middle boys being born days apart).
However it was within the unspoken or unseen where this sisterhood flourished – our embrace when we graduated college knowing we were about to leave a tiny country of just over 400,000 people to embark on our university lives abroad in the UK and USA respectively; the look of pure joy to stand next to each other (and hand tissues as required!) on our wedding days; the moments of sheer elation in sharing news of extensions to our family, where words could never quite measure to the delight felt.
Equally, that sisterhood has blossomed through words and actions – through long phone calls of encouragement in everything from the challenges of being working mothers to navigating issues of identity and belonging as ethnic minorities in our adopted countries; through checking in and
providing support in times of close family loss; and through shouting it from the rooftops when she was featured in a statewide magazine earlier this year.
Saluting our Sisters can mean many things.
To me it acknowledges those I hold dear in the sisterhood pact: that personal, unwavering, unrelenting, visible and invisible bond that can shape lives, that has shaped mine – it is 32 years and counting of one of the most important relationships in my life.