January 24, 2014

Little Sister, Never Take a Breath Alone. ~ Yali Szulanski

I promised that you would never have to take a breath alone.

My Sister,

I am in awe. Sweet staccato sounds emanate from your fingers as you wave them so magically above your violin. Your face is scrunched in the same concentration you used to have when you would try to remember what show you wanted to watch; or which drawer the candy was in. Your body is lithe and strong, and I can see the structure you’ve been building rising from the ground, through your legs and your spine. Your posture is sure, confident and secure, and your energy sways with the ballads your soul creates.

My eyes are locked upon the sorrow of your own, so beautifully and naively open to the world, yet hidden just behind an invisible screen. You hold back tears that rise up with the poignant tune, drowning in the symphony of the orchestra you’re in. I can’t help but think back to the days where your recitals were you and a group of unruly youngsters in your teacher’s living room. I will never forget the slew of high-pitched renditions of The Entertainer that we both giggled over later, in the darkness of our shared bedroom.

It started with a cry. The first breath you took out onto this world; that was the last breath you would take alone. I remember when they brought me to you, that first time. I felt as though endless hallways led me to your tiny, sleeping form. You reminded me of a cookie soft and vulnerable, crispy and maybe sweet on the inside—something that yet, I wouldn’t know. When I held you in my arms, I felt how fragile you were, and I knew (even if I didn’t quite know) that I would protect you from now on.

I promised that you would never have to take a breath alone.

During your life, you lived beneath my shadow; but really, it is I who felt I lived beneath yours. Our home, or rather series of homes, as we grew older fostered little stability and provided fodder for many sessions in the future. When I look upon your struggles now, it behooves me to surface the issues that lie beneath them, the ones that we both face from the deeper voices within us. Our paths, although rooted in the same seeds, took us down different roads. The passengers that we carry with us, in our hearts and in our memories, however, are very much the same.

You tell you want to recall some of your deeper memories, the ones that bring that sadness from your eyes. You tell me that you want to crack the jagged vice-grip on your heart, made up of old wounds and new slashes. You tell me that you wish it were different and that we could just move on. I tell you, although it pains me to hold you in your pain and no joy; this is how we learn and we each have our own process. I tell you your path is laid before you; yet you can change the cobblestones along the way. I tell you that, sometimes, memories are left deeply buried and strength is drawn from their lost days.

I am angered, sometimes, by your stubbornness, and your refusal to back down; yet at the same time, I am filled with pride at your dedication to holding the strings of our home together. I see in you, your willingness to sacrifice your comfort and your joy, for the strength of our unit—and I want to scream at you to let it go. I want to play for you the reel encoded in my mind about my secret shames and troubled waters. I want to show you, no… I want to drown you in the sorrows that holding our muddled fears and anxieties have put me through. Sometimes, I even want you to feel what I felt, when I lost my innocence so young.

Then, I remember that I promised—you would never take a breath alone.

For years where I drowned in the velvety throws of depression, you made sure that my boat was never moored to far out on the murky waters. Now, when I see that same heaviness in your lids, I just want to force your anchor down and show you all of the treasures you’ve built in your life.

Now, when I hear that so familiar quiver in your voice (that daring willingness to say it all should end) I find myself holding back the urge to hold you back. My sister, I imbibe the tender sting that arises with your maturing into this stage of life. I feel the scars thrust upon your skin. I want to tear those hurtful thoughts from your consciousness, and show you, prove to you, the captivating magic of your being. I want to point at the vulnerable souls, both old and young, and show you how you heal them.

My heart is enchanted when I watch you flourish in front of my eyes; when I hold with you conversations that delve deeply into our connection, the roots we called our home. I am still enchanted by your willingness to imagine with me, to dance with me and to walk with me through mirrors on the ceiling.

I beam when I read your words, so adeptly sculpted as you mold the notes from your fingers; and I melt when you send me a card, in the mail, just because you thought of me. I miss the nights we spent under our fort of covers, pretending the noises were just bears. Every storm, I think back to the nights we’d comfort each other, knowing that this one would too pass.

With love, for always,
Your Sister

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Assistant Editor: Jennifer Moore/ Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Jess Anderson/ Pixoto

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