CENTER AND GUARD • Sisters Are Stronger Together


When Disney announced that Frozen 2 would be released on Disney+ in March instead of June, it was as if my three-year-old was able to celebrate Christmas and her birthday all over again.

For months our family watched the heroines of the billion dollar megahit and their trials and tribulations in Arendelle and Ahtohallan (and yes I had to Google how to spell both of those mythical locations).

The more I watched, the more the story became familiar to me, but not just the story of Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, but how much the Frozen series reminds me of my own princesses.

At three-years-old, Charley is Anna. She’s strong, she’s determined and at times, she’s a little impetuous. In the original Frozen, Anna falls in love with a man she just met that day and agrees to marry him. Charley’s the same way. She makes friends in a blink of an eye and falls in love with anything and everything. Christmas and birthdays are fun with her as everything is the greatest thing she has ever seen.

That’s also been hard during the pandemic as we’ve tried to do our best to social distance. Our hearts broke the day we took her to the playground at Beckemeyer Elementary and she asked if she could play with a group of children on one of the other pieces of equipment.

“I just want some friends,” came her hangdog reply after we told her we’d prefer that she play on the less crowded playground.

She’ll get her chance though. My wife Mary and I will send her to preschool next year, if not sooner, and she’ll thrive in that environment, just like the bubbly and spontaneous Anna would.

We know this because of our experience in the preschool with nine-year-old Grace, my other princess, my Elsa.

Like the princess in Frozen, Grace is quiet, reserved...special. Without saying a word, Grace has always had the ability to connect with people on a special level.

While INAD (infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy) kept Grace from running, jumping and playing like the other kids, the pure joy in her heart made her a favorite of her preschool class and then her kindergarten and first grade classes as well. INAD has stolen her smile by now too, but it can’t extinguish the light in her eyes that I see every single day.

In Frozen Two, one of the themes is stronger together, centering around the sisters’ bond. Despite Elsa’s reservations on including her sister on her quest to find her true self, Anna is there every step of the way. Eventually, both sisters find what needs to be done and only together are they able to save their homeland.

Charley and Grace have that bond. Grace used to laugh when her little sister climbed all over her. She laughed more when we would holler at Charley, telling her that Grace isn’t a jungle gym.

For her part, Charley has never asked about Grace, has never questioned why her big sis can’t do the same things that she can. Instead, she loves her unconditionally, making sure she is part of her plans often and being a friend in only a way sisters can be.

At the end of the movie, the two are separated, Elsa in the Enchanted Forest with the Northuldra and Anna back in Arendelle, but closer than ever. They are both where they are supposed to be, Anna with her people and Elsa as the link between those people and the natural world.

This is where the similarities get hard. We know that our time with Grace is short, that she is truly home somewhere other than with Mary, Charley and I. She will always be with us in our hearts, but she will never be at peace until she gets to where she is going. 

I’m not sure what Charley will do when that happens. It will probably depend on how old she is at the time. Honestly though, I expect that she will handle it better than Mary or I could even dream to.

Even if she doesn’t know it, Charley will have a piece of Grace with her forever. In spite of her helter skelter toddler spirit, Charley cares for people more than I could ever imagine to. If I can manage to not screw her up, that kindness will take her a long way and make a difference in the lives of many.

Part of that spirit is her, but part of it comes from Grace, even if I don’t know how. Grace has touched hundreds of hearts in her short time on earth, but Charley...Charley is her legacy.

Like Anna and Elsa, Charley and Grace will always be connected, no matter how far they are from one another. No matter what happens in the days, weeks and years ahead, I know that Charley will be able to handle whatever atrocities the world throws at her because she has Grace by her side. No matter what happens, Charley and Grace, my Anna and Elsa, will be stronger together.


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