This was originally written as part of “Three Headed Boys”, an essay I wrote about a particularly self-affirming night with friends sometime in the summer of 2013, but these parts matter the most to me now.
It’s 1:00 in the morning. I had gotten home thirty minutes ago. My little sister had greeted me with screams, awoken from a nightmare. Due to the way a sobbing and terrified four-year-old speaks, I had no idea what it was about. I consoled her for 15 minutes, until she went to bed. I hadn’t seen her much that day. We had breakfast but then I was off to work until late, only to see some friends right after
When I don’t see my sister for long periods of the day, consolation usually takes the form of catching each other up on how our day was. She tells me about what she ate, read, or played. Then I complain to her about my day. She laughs, feels better, and then falls asleep. My heart glows every time we have one of these exchanges. No matter how terrified she is, she wants to make sure I know about her day and that she knows how about mine. Once the catching up is over, she usually remembers she was upset, halts her smile, resumes the scream crying, and runs to my mother. However, on nicer and later occasions, she falls asleep peacefully near the end of the catching up – and I get to carry her back to bed.
This four-year-old is now a full decade and might be too big to carry, but I still do it sparingly. We went shopping for new boots recently (docs, obviously) and she was hesitant to say she wanted a floral pair that she kept admiring. When asked why, she responded, “I really want them but will you still be able to pay your rent if you buy them for me?”
My heart continues to melt.