My Little Sister

July 20, 2012
My little sister seems to have been cursed since birth. She has so many things wrong, says every doctor. They don’t worry when it comes to being upfront with her. They need to be, so she understands the seriousness of taking care of herself, how it is more crucial now more than ever before.

She’s a fourteen year old diabetic battling failing kidneys and more problems than I could begin to list. If this is the most crucial time, if this is really when she has to take things most seriously, if this is when she has to start taking handfuls of different color pills every day, she asks me, then what happens in ten years? None of these problems will just go away.

I wish I knew what to say. I pull the car over in a nearby park and reach for her hand. There’s nothing I can say; I can’t promise it will get better and I can’t say I understand. She just keeps crying about how miserable she is, how life couldn’t get any worse.

I’ve taken her out for car rides many times before to listen to her complain about her friends and how unfair she thinks our parents are to her, but I’ve never heard her worry so much about her future. All her worrying got me worrying. I worried about what would happen with anyone. I’m not one to worry about anything; I let things happen because I believe everything that’s meant to be will always find its way. I don’t freak out if I make a mistake because I know there’s nothing I can change except my attitude; I can cry over the blunder or smile and have fun with what I’ve got. Who is to say anything went wrong anyway? No one knows for sure. Maybe things won’t always turn out so good, but maybe that’s just for a reason.

How do I begin at all to explain this to my little sister? I just can’t. I want to be that great role model and big sister that makes everything better, but how? I can’t say anything. I try to encourage her to find something to distract her in her free time, but she won’t stop yelling that she has tried it all. I know there’s no way she could have tried everything, but she doesn’t want to hear me argue her more.

Then she starts worrying about her job; she’s a freshman in high school and has never worked a day in her life, but she is already worried she won’t be able to pay the bills for her medication when she’s on her own. Finally, something I could talk about a little. I tell her about my job and how expensive gas and food is and how I have to worry about going to college soon and paying for that. I tell her about my dream job: writer. I explain to her how much money I have made from my book I already had published: less than minimum wage, every quarter year.

Then I remind her, I have no clue what is going to happen in the future, but the best thing I’ve learned is that the future hasn’t arrived yet. Yesterday is in the past and I can’t change it. Today is happening right now where I am breathing. Tomorrow will never come; it will always be a part of the future. Why worry about it? If you do everything you can today, you’ll fall asleep fine and the next will be just as great.
“Danielle,” she grumbles, “you don’t understand what it’s like to be depressed. You have everything going for you.”

Now, I guess, isn’t the time to talk to her about how every boyfriend I have had has cheated on me. And I probably shouldn’t mention every guy friend I’ve had has used me to cheat on someone else, leaving all my girl friends mad at me since they have boyfriends and don’t approve of that sort of behavior. I mean, I don’t sleep at night because I have lost all respect for myself; I’m tired of blaming the men when it must just be me. I obviously have no right to claim I know how she feels with what’s wrong with her body, but I don’t think she has a right to say she’s the only one who can be sad in the world. I’ve seen her happy, she is happy every time she is with her friends or is fishing with my dad.
“Take me home,” she finally says, crossing her arms. She doesn’t feel like talking anymore and tears are flooding her eyes, but she is too mad to acknowledge them. I drive her home and let her scurry inside to her room while I drive off to run my errands. I turn up the radio and light a cigarette. I go to the bank and the dry cleaner’s, then stop at work for a few minutes before I head home for dinner. My mum informs me that she has been in her room with the door locked since she got home. Everyone sits in the living room with their meals as I make my own plate. My little sister, who can hardly be considered little when she is half a foot taller than me, comes up behind me. She waits for me to turn around to hug me. I don’t know what I did or what I said. I’m not sure I really said anything besides ask her what was wrong and tell her to find distractions.

She whispers a thank you before she takes her plate back into her room. I know no matter what I tell her now, she is still fourteen. In four years, she’ll be my age. I didn’t think the way I do now when I was her age and I probably acted the same way about things. One day she’ll find something worth smiling for and she’ll realize the future is much further than she thinks.

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