My Sister’s Letter to Me


I pulled you into my arms and rocked you back and forth. Tears fell down your cheeks. You had a fever and a bad one too. You hadn’t slept or eaten well for days. But I held you and played with your hair.

I was six years old when mom and dad told me about you. I was going to have a new friend; I never had that many. I wrote you a letter, but you haven’t seen it. But let’s save that for later, we’re not there yet.You were born with chubby cheeks, a big appetite and a constantly stupid smile. You had small hands, they opened and closed on my finger. You made me calm, you brought me green.

We lived in Mexico then, and my friends were mostly our cousins. They’re the best, I wish you had gotten to grow up with them too. Our parents worked and Grandma took care of me and sent me to school. The days consisted of sun and walking down colorful dirt roads. They were filled with shops and good smelling food, I wish you could’ve seen those colors more.The color of family, it was orange.

There was a huge change ahead of us, dad had worked really hard and gotten a job opportunity in Michigan. I was excited! And scared out of my mind, I couldn’t speak a word of English. We were going to get a better future, and I concentrated on that. I had plenty of sunny days, but you should’ve seen the storm that came… I guess you did but you were still so small.

My first year of school is a foggy cloud, with small gaps of searingly clear memories. Some people were nice, some people were cruel — one girl particularly so. She would shout at me and grab my arm to hurt me. She left red marks there, that never really went away. You should’ve seen that red. It was the color of blood.

I walked down the hallways alone, thinking how you’d be home and I would see your smile and it would be okay. Middle school came around, and I met my best friend. She took care of both of us — she’s kind of your big sister too, you know? She gave me something that I hadn’t known I was missing, I noticed that her palms had flowers drawn on them when she handed it to me. It was henna, she said. Her gift was blue, a healing kind of blue, I wonder if you saw it.

I went to college, and things got hard. Something inside me was broken, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I had met someone, but he always had red eyes when he came over. He wasn’t good, trust me. He didn’t give, he took away, and I lost myself. There are still times when I’m scared for no reason, my mind races, my throat closes up, and I can’t breathe. I’d close my eyes, and it was black. I hope you never see that black, it was hopeless.

Then the storm stopped, not abruptly, but slowly with time. It went from black to grey, and grey to white. The feeling of black and red remained though, I think they always will. That’s what I want to tell you, sis, there are nights with starry skies, and there are others without a trace of light in them.

But then he came. He had sophisticated hair and glasses and wore a lot of vests. Most importantly though, he had a constantly stupid smile. He brought something with him to; it was purple. He pulled me together and helped me take deep breaths. He could see the red and black — he’d felt it too.

Life is short, sweet, long and cruel. It’s a collection of things you’ve given and things that have been given to you. There’s so much black and red and so many starless nights ahead of you. Between that foggy mess though, will be spurts of color; orange, blue and purple. I’ll be here for your storms and fevers. And when the day comes for me to give you this letter, you’ll understand that I’ll be your green.

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