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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Sister, Sister: The Vigil

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.

Contact Meghan Thomassen at and Erin Thomassen at
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.