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My Dearest Sister

My dearest sister:

When a loved one is diagnosed,

we are quick to blame ourselves.

Experts are quicker to say: don't.

How could you have known?

Okay, I say.

A word with no substance.

It happened again,

which said to me that for five years

we’d pretended nothing happened,

we’d ignored the hurt and failed to get better,

to love better—

I thought she was better, I say.

Words with no substance.

I'm hiding, really,

writing what I can't say, really,

learning about something I can't understand, really.

All words with no substance.

Of all the things I voice,

one thing is overdue—

an apology, dearest sister.

My words, with no substance.

I am sorry that the unloving voices,

your own or the ones laced through all speech,

were louder than the loving ones.

Louder than mine.

I am sorry did too little, asked too much,

and did too much, asked too little.

I am sorry that for all the time I spent

learning math and science and all else

I neglected learning about you,

neglected investing time in you, with you.

These are still words with no substance.

And now this divide,

though dissipating with time,

keeps my arms from wrapping around you —

keeps me from comforting you

as an older sister should.

So, my dearest sister, let me say now:

I am so proud of you.

The strength in you is unmatched.

You've sewn yourself back together,

and what's forming now is

stronger and more beautiful than ever.

Where my words were without substance,

you are full.