It’s strange being angry at somebody you don’t know – and to be honest, I don’t know you at all.
I know that you’re a fashion model, I know that you’re trying to give up smoking, I know that you live in a nice home with your nice parents and that you just returned home from a trip to Japan. I know that you study science, and I know that you work hard to achieve strong marks. I know that you, yourself, have an older brother; just as I know that you, for whatever reason, don’t get along with him.
I know all these things, but I don’t know who you are. You see, I never really cared to. All I cared about was the way you made my little sister smile, the way you made her laugh; the way you gave light to a side of her I’d not previously seen. The thing is, I really couldn’t care less about what makes my sister happy; she could be lesbian, transexual, asexual, pansexual or an emotionally unhinged cat lady – to me, the details are irrelevant.
You were — and still are — irrelevant.
It’s hard coming to terms with a younger sibling growing up, reaching an age where love, relationships, dating and heartbreak become so suddenly commonplace. I can’t seem to shake the idea that she, my baby sister, should still be crying over a scraped knee, a dropped ice-cream cone, a canceled television show or an enforced early bed-time. But she’s not — she’s crying, now, because of you; she’s crying because of the way you treated her, because of the way you left her.
I know it’s not my place to judge, that I’m in no position to intervene, but, to be honest, I’m struggling to hold reasonable perspective.
Isn’t it funny, the way our connection to family distorts all reason — blurs our ideas of right and wrong? I should be able to understand the validity of your feelings; I should be able to accept your undisputed, personal right to pursue that which makes you happy and abandon that which no longer serves to. I should be able to look at you objectively, in all your importance and all your insignificance, and I should be able to shrug. But I can’t.
You see, having had my own heart bruised at a similar age, I know the way it hurts. I know the way it throbs so consistently from within, scratches away at the walls you took so long to build. I know the way it tears out the proverbial rug, leads you to stub your toe on every corner; how the clouds, rain and wind suddenly carry new meaning, a foreboding new relevance. I know the way your coffee grows bitter, the way your chest grows tender, the way your words fall silent under the pressing weight of morning.
I know the way nighttime becomes your only refuge — the creases of your bed, the only safe-haven.
Knowing what I do, I can’t help but feel that this kind of pain has no place in the heart of someone so young; someone as creative, wide-eyed, innocent and excited by life as she, my little sister. Where you once shone light, you’ve now placed darkness – where you once planted hope, you’ve now instilled doubt. The laughter has faded into yesterday, her youthful innocence tainted by the oft-dark realities of love – the cruel inevitabilities of adulthood.
Actually, now that I think about it, perhaps I’m going about this all the wrong way.
While I certainly hold resentment, harbor feelings of anger, stubbornly hold you responsible for a crime that you didn’t commit — perhaps I should really be saying thank you. Perhaps I should be saying thank you for hurting my little sister the way you did; thank you for building her up and thank you tearing her down — thank you for silence and thank you for the noise.
You see, even though I know the pain, even though I’ve felt the darkness and even though I hate your inflicting it upon on her – I also understand the eventual strength born from weakness. I understand the way it sometimes takes a crushing blow to find your feet, the way it takes a knock-back to find traction; the way it often takes abandonment to appreciate the true beauty of being held.
And with this in mind, I guess that I can shrug.
I can shrug because I know that you’ve let go of someone special, someone who’s intelligent, someone who’s kind — someone who carries the rarities of life so casually in her breast-pocket. You’ve given my little sister the chance to find resilience in her pain, direction in her tears and warmth in your shadows – and while you may not see it now, trust me when I say that she’ll be better for it.