A few months ago, while cleaning out a closet, my sister Aggie stumbled upon a piece of the past, a small shard of our lives as siblings. Folded and tucked inside a small Sanrio Keroppi tin she used to use as a piggy bank, was a note my little sister had written to me in her elementary-school scrawl:
She handed me the note the same afternoon she found it.
“Can you believe this?” she asked, as we both laughed.
“I remember looking for cash and finding this instead. Man, you really got me!”
We giggled as the memory swirled in our collective thoughts.
“I think you still owe me some money, no?” she said, suddenly serious.
“Oh, yeah, hundreds I’m sure! Ha ha ha ha!!”
It took me a few seconds to realize I was the only one laughing.
Her face broke into a wide grin and she slapped my arm.
“Don’t worry about it. We’re good,” she said with a wink.
But we weren’t always.
She could tell I had been drinking just by a split second glance at my eyes.
Even if was just one beer (though, it was never just one beer…….).
Growing up, we fought like typical sisters, but it wasn’t the arguments about missing money or reading our diaries that nearly did us in.
It wasn’t the time I threw a vacuum cleaner towards her, close enough to get her to shut up, far enough away to know I’d miss her, or that her unicorn posters had no business sharing the same wall space as my shrine to Depeche Mode that nearly did us in.
It wasn’t the broken jewelery, the lost headbands, the borrowed and ruined clothes.
We made memories as kids
some good, some bad, but none of them terrible
somewhere along the way I tripped up and like I did with everyone else around me,
I chose booze over her and she became another casualty of my selfishness.
She stopped coming to me for advice
and I stopped caring enough to wonder why
She stopped trusting me with secrets that used to make us giggle
and I couldn’t stop long enough to see that she was slipping between the cracks
She couldn’t stop staring into my eyes, searching for signs of sobriety
and I stopped glancing in her direction, so she couldn’t see there weren’t any
We withered beneath the strain and the pain and the broken promises
and after a while
I forgot the sound of her laugh
and she forgot what it was like to have a sisiter
I’m crying too hard to continue.
And then, by the Grace of God, after years of turmoil and self-torture
after all of the hangovers
after all of the mornings I woke up and started each sentence with “I swear,” and “I promise,” and “I’ll never do it again,”
I clung to a light that so few are able to see
and I haven’t let go since
Then one day
she asked me what I thought of her new shoes
and I whispered that I loved them
The next time, she needed help with a resume
and I sat alongside her as I proofread the story of her professional life
Soon she was making her way towards me
on a regular basis
and I will never forget the feeling of sitting cross legged on her bed
giggling for the first time in years
as I looked directly into her eyes
and saw forgiveness, and hope, and love staring right back at me
She moved to NYC two weeks ago
and the day she left
I sat on the bench outside
and sobbed like a baby as she got into the car
I cried for the years I wasted
I cried for the second chance I was given to do it right
I cried for the miles that would now be between us
I thought about how for so many years
we silently passed each other in the halls
ghosts of our former selves
her heart broken
my heart too selfish to give a damn
I thought about all of the times I heard her footsteps approaching
I would hide like a coward behind my locked door
until I was sure she was gone
and through the tears and bubbles of snot
(I know it’s gross, but I’m trying to paint a vivid and honest picture for you here)
I smiled as her car pulled out of the driveway
my arm extended in a proud wave (i’m so proud of you honey)
no matter where she plants her beautiful roots (my sister. she is soooo beautiful)
we’ll never be that far apart