By Amy Heard
Every year for as far back as I can remember, my cousins and I met in Abilene at my aunt’s house for a week of “Heard Camp.”
For a week, Rachael, Rebecca, Melissa, Jordan (the only male for five solid years), my younger brother and I would make mud pies, jump on the trampoline, play pranks on one another and fight. Jordan and I used to literally fight each other — the closest in age, we were probably competing for attention.
My Aunt Ann handled us with an ease that, looking back, is very impressive. We all had strong opinions and we were never afraid to voice them.
While Jordan and my brother were present at our Heard Camp gatherings, the bond between the four girls went beyond that of cousins.
Growing up, I had three automatic best friends. We were cousins, but we were also playmates and confidantes.
The four of us would spend hours in my cousin’s bed in her bright blue bedroom watching the Anne of Green Gables movies and quoting every line.
Rachael is seven years older than me, and Melissa and I were notorious for disagreeing and escalating into screaming matches when we were young.
Rebecca, though, was my idol. I wanted to be Rebecca. She was (and still is) artistic and beautiful and funny. I wanted to act like her and be with her at all times.
Everyone in my family knew I idolized Rebecca — when we were young, I followed her around like a puppy dog, sometimes to her annoyance.
Rachael and Melissa had their own special friendship, and I was determined to make Rebecca my best friend as well.
As we grew older, it became harder and harder to find a week we were all free in the summer.
Heard Camp was shortened to several days, then a weekend. I grew up and made my own friends — set my own goals.
As children we had compared ourselves to the four sisters in “Little Women” or the four friends in “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”
As we have grown older, however, we seem to have become more like the four friends in “Now and Then” — living separate lives and reminiscing on our childhood adventures when reunited.
Lately, Rachael, Rebecca, Melissa and I have been reunited more often. Rebecca is getting married Saturday, and we are all bridesmaids in her wedding.
Last weekend we met in Abilene for a weekend of bridal showers.
When I walked into Melissa’s bedroom — the scene of so many movie marathons — the walls had been painted over a neutral color. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a true, unadulterated Heard Camp, but the sight of those painted walls made me realize just how far we’ve come.
Rachael has grown into a strong, independent woman and works as a speech pathologist in San Antonio.
Melissa graduated early from Howard Payne and is planning on going to graduate school in the fall. I’ll have my bachelor’s degree shortly after this time next year.
We have all grown up, far from the days of frozen underwear and forced peanut butter eating.
Rebecca’s marriage, though, will set her apart.
It will never again be Rach, Becca, Miss and Amy, because there will be Rebecca and Dave.
Amy Heard is a junior English major from San Antonio and a copy editor for the Lariat.