Sibling Joy / Creative Forces
Christopher Statham and Stephanie Willoughby have been linked to Garden Spices since the gate opened for our first issue. Stephanie (34) and Christopher (31), have also been linked together in laughter, love, and joy since they first saw on each other — they are siblings! They are Chicagoans who now reside in New Jersey, but they clipped their wings in New York and it is New York that is in their blood. Both are married, Stephanie to Matt; and Christopher to JC Powell. Both families lay claim to the Willoughby children, Gracen (5) and Jude (2.5). They are best friends and have found support in each other in every aspect of their lives.
Matt, Jude, Gracen, and Stephanie Willoughby
JC Powell, Christopher, and Stephanie’s daughter baby Gracen
Stephanie on Christopher
Growing up, my brother Christopher and I were close in a way that was undefined, untested, and unfaltering. I remember bits and pieces of that time now, the way you might remember a book that you love, but plot and points are foggy. We shared a general love of TV and playing outside with neighborhood friends, but I don’t think that’s where we bonded. It seems to me that our relationship was formed in the mundane spaces where we were forced together without choosing to be there — aftercare, the grocery store, or my grandparents for a few weeks each summer. It was in those times where it was just the two of us, where our bond became the strongest. I distinctly recall being very kind to him when I had to be, and very mean to him when I didn’t have to be. I guess that’s the gig when you’re the older / wiser sibling. I would act so big and brave, but if I had a nightmare I would crawl into his toddler sized bed and sleep there for the night.
Fast forward to adulthood ( and my early 20’s), we were both living in New York, but on complete opposite sides of the city. We were officially on our own and all we had then, as we do now, were each other to rely on. It was I who needed Christopher during the rough patches. I intentionally spent my Saturdays crawling into his bed and watching TV curled up next to him. We’d order takeout and I don’t think he really wanted me there, because he had a million other much cooler things to do, but he never got up, he never left me, and he never complained. For a few years while I sorted my life out, my brother was the only person who brought me any type of comfort or joy.
Now we live six miles away from one another. When I married, he married. When I had my first child, he and his husband moved to our neighborhood to be closer. Somehow we started this life together as siblings, but now he and his husband are my best friends. My brother brings me joy in a way that no other human on this Earth could. I’ve memorized his hug, his laugh (oh that laugh), and his voice. My children don’t know a life without their Uncles. We are each others constant and I’m grateful for that. Perhaps, the great irony is that, now my kids snuggle their way into their Uncle’s bed. If you need them, and can’t find them, they’re in Uncles bed watching tv and snuggling close to each of them. I would stop them, but I know what a wonderfully healing place that is and how perfect a snuggle from Christopher can be.
Christopher on Sibling Joy
Gracen and Jude, reminiscent of Stephanie and Christopher
There was a time in my younger life that being a sibling seemed so difficult. I was the younger brother to a very expressive and vocal sister. I myself was much more shy, which basically meant she called all of the shots and I bowed to her every whim. We played tricks on each other, and often battled for our parents’ attention. Yet somehow I was always mesmerized by her beauty, wit, and ability to command a room. As much as my sister pushed my buttons I wanted to be just like her in so many ways. I was always so filled with joy when she would pick me, her annoying little brother, to play a game with her, or even better – hang out with her and her friends.
As we got older we began to deepen our relationship not just as siblings, but as the best of friends. There is nothing she could do to make me love her less, or cause me to judge her. She has supported me through my entire life, fighting bullies, cheering me on, and encouraging my every move. Our relationship is deeper than friends, deeper than brother and sister, she is truly a soul mate to me.
My sister brings me joy when I see her with her kids, when we have family dinners on the weekends, when we get into infectious fits of laughter that neither of our husbands seem to understand. I feel that same joy when I see her daughter and son developing a relationship that will hopefully grow the way ours has.
Their work reflects what they are — creative forces that enhance the world of film and fashion.
– Christopher Statham
“I started this site in an effort to get a reaction. I want to have fun with what I do, and I hope the readers, art enthusiasts, and fashion people will have fun with it too.” Please visit his article Creative Force – Christopher Statham to find out about his projects.
– Stephanie Willoughby
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Garden Spices Magazine