He Ain’t Heavy…
Growing up I heard a story. I heard a story of how I shared a crib with a young girl who bit me for a reason known only to her. My parents were comfortable telling the story because as far as I can remember, it was the only violence shown towards me in the many years that followed. As it happens, that little girl, only a baby then, turned out to be one of my best friends. She has taken care of me, and I in turn, have at times taken care of her. We had, and have, each others’ back.
We were always in it together. We shared more than just our common ancestry. She drove me crazy and I did the same for her, but we always knew that somehow, if it came right down to it, we would be there for each other no matter what. We sang hits like, “Peanut Butter and Jelly” and “Beep, Beep, Beep”. We still do. My life has been filled with drama, most of which, actually all of which, only I am responsible. She has seen all of my life, minus a year or two, and she seems to be proud in an unrealistic way. I am proud of her as well, but for more believable reasons.
We would ride in the back of our family car and sing silly songs. We would clean the house on Saturday nights, taking turns each week unloading the dishwasher or vacuuming the living room. In later years I would drive her to school. There was little trouble in our house, until she started hanging out with boys, that I offered on a regular basis, to run out of the driveway. She spent a year away at a Baptist school nearby and I would take her back on Sunday evenings with Ozzy Osbourne’s album, “Tribute”, blasting out of the open windows of my 1968 Volvo. At her request, of course.
I chastised her when she started smoking cigarettes. She put them down about the time I picked them up. I spent countless hours convincing her that God cared for her in ways that only God and her could know. Now she does the same for me. I counseled her on the trouble that alcohol brings and now she rolls her eyes when I speak of the virtues of the “Bob Dylan whiskey” that is in my cupboard. In many ways our roles are reversed, but in many ways also, we are taking on new roles. We always had more love than roles anyway.
Right before my eyes, this little girl grew up, raised two children of her own (which I fancy my own also), made a life out of kindness, and still looks at the wonder of living without blinking. She is as pleased with the return of a mama robin building a nest outside her window as some would be with a winning lottery ticket. Our mother missed her mother every day. She misses our mother every day. There is in her eyes, as were in the eyes of my mother, both a joy and a sadness that comes with loving others deeply.
When I need her the most, she is there. When she needs me the most, I am there. She reminds me to be humble, but at the same time builds me up into something that is more grand than anything I could see in myself. She most likely has a different perception of the Creator than I have, but it rarely comes up. We speak of other things. We speak of real things. I believe it is in the speaking of these other and real things that the Creator spreads love. This is what we feel when we speak.
We have quit trying to convince each other we are right. The truth is, we are both right, even if sometimes we disagree. She always tagged along, but it was never tagging along. She was one more in the gang of friends that I remember fondly. Only the fact that she has outlasted every other friend in the gang of kids we ran with, separates her from them in my mind. She is prone to crying. If I have not yet, in writing this article, reduced her to tears, I will share a short story to seal the proverbial deal.
There was a dark time in my sisters life. A time when she thought her being in the world may not be worth the effort it seemed to take to exist. Though I knew life was hard for her, I did not know why. I still do not know why. What inspires me to this day, and without my holding any grudge for the bite in the crib almost fifty years ago, is the fact that she has changed in some ways, but has held fast to herself in others. I remember her storming out of our childhood home and being upset about something. I chased after her, and since she did not hear me coming, she had no time to hide her cigarette.
As a way to prove a point, I asked her for one. She said no, but not in a mean way. She did want me messing around with that stuff. She did not want what had become an addiction for her to become an addiction for me. She was angry, but she was still looking out for me. In this way, we look out for each other. Each experiencing things in life and holding the other back from hurting in the same ways. It is in this spirit that I am going to finish writing for the night, go to bed, and wish good things for her. What follows is a personal message to her, but also available for you to read.
Give yourself permission to be happy. After being happy for a time, give yourself permission to be even more happy. Imagine all of the love you have for others and share it with yourself. Let the past fade from your mind and keep only the lessons that were learned. Let the worries for tomorrow struggle with themselves while you rest, knowing that those you miss are with you, and those that you love are close. Understand your perfection is not a goal you are to achieve, but a wholeness you possess in this present moment. Baby sister, realize the gift you are. See the you that holds the light for others to find their way. See the you that holds the light, for you to find your way. Life is not about how we compare to others, but about forgetting how to compare at all. You are a gift from God to me. You were made with an amber floating away from the same fire that burned at the beginning of time. Shine my friend. Do not be at peace. Be peace. Your smile is changing the world. Your smile has changed my world.