In this letter, written to my sister, I connect memories from our childhood to present-day lived experiences. By presenting my memories as fragments, I reveal them as ruptures that are layered with history and unresolved feelings. Through reflection, I show how the choices in the present repeat the history of the past. A family history tied to the military, sibling relationships, and life choices are all re-experienced.
We weren't always like this. It was hard for you and me. We're not simply opposites like many say. We approach living, breathing, and loving in vastly different ways. We started off together, but our paths quickly diverged, as you went one way and I went another. They tried to force us, push us, and place us together. They'd say, “you're sisters,” “be friends,” and “like one another.”
Come here. No, come a little closer. Come sit with me. It's gonna be alright. You know it always is. Put your head in my lap and just talk to me. Your small and frail arms would tremble as you gripped my legs. You would whisper, “I'm scared.” Your crying was hard and deep. The tears streamed down your cheeks. We'd climb into bed and pull the covers over our heads as they screamed at each other. Was it the drink? A woman? The Army? It didn't matter. I knew, when the sun came up, it would all be over.
You know, I didn't see it coming. I was tucked into my four-poster bed. I was prepared for rest, but not for your call. Your voice was almost a whisper. The words “I enlisted” left your lips and my heart started to tremble. Where was the floor? Where was the ceiling? The room was spinning. How would I protect you? How would I know you were safe? You were too little, too young, and too naive.
First, one letter arrived and then there was another. See this entire stack? I saved them all. Your voice was changing. Your language was different. Did I still know you? Did the smell of vodka still remind you of her? The days turned into weeks and then into months. And then I saw you. I barely recognized you. There were no words. You looked so different, so much older, and I was scared that you didn't need me anymore. Would we ever make a blanket fort again? Would we ever keep each other awake till the early morning hours?
I knew it would happen, but did I see it this way? No. Who was he? An Army Ranger with the Airborne Division? You said he was “just a friend,” but we both knew that wasn't true. December 1st came and now you share his surname. You were there in a place across the Atlantic and I was here. Where was he? Training you would say. Iraq once? Afghanistan twice? What's Iraq? Or Afghanistan? What does the Middle East mean? 9/11? The War on Terror?
You know each time it happens there's a hardboiled egg. This was her way and now it's mine. Tucked into my four-poster bed, I carefully peel away the shell. Will you be okay? Will you be safe? Another tour you say. I guess that's okay. You'll be there and I'll be here.
Me? I'll just be eating an egg, one after another.