Just breathe
03.28.02 // 3:03 a.m.

Its 2:21 am and I can’t sleep. As soon as I’m alone I’m on the verge of tears again and thinking of the words she wrote. I feel ashamed for doing it. I opened up MS Word to work on some questions. I clicked File and the first of the four files was hers. I could tell by the file name, C:MyDocumentsLoriMarch 26.doc. So, I clicked on it, read it five times and then went through the folder looking for other recent documents.

I felt that tightening in my chest again like if someone grabbed my heart and twisted it intentionally to bring an indescribable pain to me. It’s that feeling that there is no way I can help my little sister. The one who knows me inside and out. The one who I thought I knew inside and out.

I see her during the day and she smiles and we read Dr. Seuss’ Oh the places you’ll go. I was supposed to give her that book on her graduation day, but she found it on my desk at my apartment. Adrian taps on his drums, Mom cooks good food, Dad figures out income tax stuff, and Danny brings yummy pretzels home from work. Things at the light blue house on the street named after a coffee brand seem alright.

But then things quiet down and she gets tired. And I know from what she writes that she’s just tired… of everything. The questions, the “whys” and the “how are you doing” and the “I’m here for you’s.” She doesn’t want people to know, ni familia ni amigos. She wants it all to stop. She tells herself “just breathe” and writes “one day at a time” in her photo journal… the same slogan Dad used when he came out of his month-long session in rehab. One day at a time. Un día a la vez.

And I? Well I stare at the banner on my cell phone asking: Smile? I have to be the strong one, the practical one, the one who will run into the bathroom, dry the tears with rough toilet paper and rinse the salty tears away from her too pale face. So, I smile, and I listen to Yo, and I hold her as she cries in church while we sing “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I have to be, because from my snooping around I found this:

February 24, 2002

If I didn’t have a sister I could always count on no matter what, I think life would be unbearable. I like talking to Cindy because she is so open-minded. She never tells me what to feel and just has all the right words to say. she gives me therapeutic options instead of me trying to scratch my skin off.

And I cope. I talk to Dom, Eligio, Chispa, Jo, the roommates, and Tim. I write, I pray and I breathe.

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