Sister, Sister: The Vigil
Meghan Thomassen and Erin Thomassen | Monday, September 2, 2013
In Notre Dame’s hallowed halls, the Thomassen sisters recall their defining parallel moments facing new friendships, football weekends and issues of faith. Erin is a freshman and Meghan is a senior. These are their stories.
The night before Frosh-O 2013.
Erin: I know I’m desperate when I start counting leprechauns instead of sheep. Who was I kidding? I can’t fall asleep early the night before Frosh-O.
Meghan: Erin moves in tomorrow, and all I can think about is the look on her face when she sees the dome for the first time. I can’t sleep I’m so excited. Campus might not mean a lot to her now, but soon it will feel just like home.
Erin: I grope in the dark for the handy-dandy book light the salesman insisted I buy at Bed, Bath and Beyond while shopping for dorm stuff, only to find it fails to turn on without batteries – the things they fail to teach at prep school.
Meghan: I’m unfamiliar with the small, stuffy room in my house off campus. I yearn for the sweet, sweet air conditioning that came with living in Pasquerilla East. Erin is going to get so spoiled this year.
Erin: With a sigh, I roll out of bed to flip the lights switch on, stumbling over the bag of clothes I forgot to donate in the process. Though it’s hard to part with my army of t-shirts, I know my life will be simpler and my dorm neater when my stuff fits in just a few bags. And two suitcases. And six shoeboxes. Maybe I still need to narrow it down a bit …
Meghan: None of the things that worried me when I was her age worry me now. I remember how much I stressed about the way my hair frizzed in the South Bend humidity. That was really dumb. I could have done so many better things with that time.
Erin: I abandon the anthill of clothes on my floor and start flipping through the Bible I forgot to pack. Hmmm, which verse will help me stop sweating and start sleeping? I cast my cares on Him to find I can do all things through Christ – except fall asleep.
Meghan: I’m determined that this year will be the year that I do a better job of connecting my faith with my religion. I missed Mass on campus so much while I was in London last semester. I never thought a small chapel on the ground floor of a cement-block dorm would become so important to me.
Erin: Dejected, I unwrap the book of Fighting Irish football history that my dad, Class of 1978, gave me for graduation. Somewhere between Knute Rockne and Joe Montana, I drift off into a REM cycle and dream about a hippo named Larry.
Meghan: And eventually, Erin will grow to like football. Hopefully.
Erin: At 4:00 a.m., my phone quacks at me to get up and get dressed. As I run out the door, I slip the football book into my carry-on. I never know when I’ll need another good night’s sleep.