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‘It’s life changing’

Big/Little friendship evolves, becomes stronger over nearly 30 years

Baking cookies. Playing the piano together. A joint love of office supplies.

Memories of a nearly 30-year friendship flow from Little Sister Abby Judy and her Big Sister Kay Kossen. In addition, gratitude is evident.

As the youngest of five girls being raised by their divorced father, Abby craved the attention that Kay could give her. “I didn’t have anyone all of my own and with Kay, I felt special,” Abby says.

“At first I worried what I’d do with her,” Kay says. “I thought I had to entertain her. Then, I learned that just being together was enough.”

Except for a short time when Kay moved out of the area, the pair spent time together nearly every week until Abby hit high school and her schedule became busier. Then their visits were more sporadic but Abby knew she could always count on Kay. She looked up to her and wanted to make Kay proud. “I always cared what Kay thought and at certain times, this led me to make better decisions than I might have otherwise,” Abby says.

During her senior year of high school Abby was having difficulty studying and completing her classes. “There was a chance I wouldn’t graduate,” she says. “But, in my mind, I couldn’t imagine telling Kay there wouldn’t be a graduation. She would have been so disappointed. I looked up to her so much and wanted her to see me in a certain way.”

So Abby rededicated herself to her studies and was able to graduate with her class. And Kay was there to see her walk across the stage and accept her diploma.

Abby went on to attend and graduate from college and Kay was there for her again.

Expectations and fear of letting the other down weren’t limited to Abby. Kay also relied on Abby during difficult times. “Abby was a huge support,” Kay says. “It’s almost as if the situation was flipped.”

That Abby was also a support for Kay made their friendship stronger and made the woman she’d always idolized more relatable. “She became human at that point. It made me feel good that I could be there for her,” Abby says.

Asked what she got out of being a Big, Kay very quickly says, “A life-long friend; someone who will always be there and accept you no matter what.”

Abby says Kay was able to fill a role in her life that would most likely have gone unfilled. Kay helped organize her senior pictures, sold what would become Abby’s first car to her dad, and bought Abby her first business suit when she was in college.

“It’s hard to sum up someone’s presence in your life – what hole would be there without them.” Abby wonders, “What kind of person would I be without her?”

In the end, Abby summed it by turning to her Big Sister and saying, “Any big time in my life, you were there.”