As a child I was matched with a Big Sister through the Big Brothers & Big Sisters program, which is generally a one-year commitment. As it turns out, mine only heard the word “commitment” and from that moment on she undoubtedly changed my life.
So there we were sitting across from each other during our initial meeting while having ice cream in a Friendly’s restaurant. I was nine and confused as ever. She seemed nice enough, but I had no idea of why we were there, what we were supposed to do or even what to talk about. In fact, I was never much of a talker anyway which always left me in a constant state of awkwardness. In my experience, adults were not the people I wanted to be surrounded by. So I retreated to my inner sanctuary as I often did for it was a safety net that had saved me thus far.
Then she came back. She always did. Of course this left me even more confused than before. What were her intentions? I was always suspicious of anyone and everyone, but she made me laugh more than I had ever laughed before. And we had fun, more than I ever thought was possible. I knew I liked her, I just had no idea what to do with it. At the same time I was in a place of darkness. Darker than most adults could comprehend let alone a nine-year-old child and yet there I was being devoured by it. Surviving, but ready to give up, which left me wanting her as far from me as possible for I truly believed I was only capable of causing her pain. Funny thing is, I doubt either of us could have ever foreseen just how accurate my predictions would become.
We continued spending time together because she continued returning and, well, I liked her. She was the first person that I began collecting memories with rather than fearing the inevitable terror. She was a warmth to me, the only thing staving off my frostbitten past.
Unfortunately, with that warmth also came new fears. A fear of having her in my life and then having to let her go. A fear that I would trust her entirely and then she would let me go. A fear of hope. A fear of love. Pretty much a fear of everything. Relationships generally were not a pleasant thing for me so naturally there came a point when I felt I hated her…well not really for she was the epitome of unconditional love and I doubt anyone could bring themselves to hate that. No, I resented her for causing me to care about her and for believing she cared about me. Mostly though, I resented her for walking into my life at a time when I held my “point of no return” so deeply within my grasp. I could almost feel my straining fingers wrapping themselves around what I believed to be my fate.
Instead, because of her the tables were turning and so I began this seemingly endless dance as I waltzed through life with this fate dangling by a mere thread. Of course reality was quick to set in and I came to find it was I who was dangling by that same thread. It would dip me into these all consuming icy waters of outside forces only to pluck me from those same waters at the exact moment of sheer despair. The exact moment desperation had kicked in as I glimpsed my last ray of hope fluttering away like a butterfly almost within my reach. It would tease me as I suffocated on its taunts while suddenly finding pockets of the crispest, cleanest air and I would instinctively force myself to take the biggest gulp my lungs would allow only to be swung through the trenches all over again.
That is what she was…that crisp, clean air was her entire being. At least that is what she became for me.
I doubt she ever realized what a battle our relationship was for me. Of course, it wasn’t until years later that I realized it was the same for her and yet she stayed. We both stayed really. Me because I knew she was the only good thing to have ever happened to me and her because she knew the same. The last thing she ever wanted was to walk out my life like everyone before, but I certainly had not made it easy on her. Instead, I did everything I could think of to send her running for the door…but she never opened it. She never even reached for the knob. Instead, she showed me what family was. She introduced me to unconditional love. And…while I was not equipped to accept or even understand any of these things, they truly were the only ones that aided in my survival. Even in my worst moments I always thought of her and moments we shared and it would lift me just enough to “survive.”
For most of my life I had been in an all out war with myself and she was spending every possible moment nursing my wounds while using every possible argument to have me medically discharged from this ongoing battle of mine. Yet I struggled with allowing her to save me. Or maybe it was that I struggled with allowing her to show me how to save myself. Truthfully, I was not even sure I wanted to be saved and yet that is exactly what she was doing time and again and I question whether neither of us knew or if we both did. Then there came a point when I was no longer that nine-year-old girl. It was time for me to take care of myself in every aspect of life and, well, it was time for her to have a life…or at least not one that revolved around me. And so I let go, more than I had ever let go before. I let go because I realized how much I love her. I let go because I realized how much I had hurt her. I let go because she was so deserving of having happiness…and she did. She does. I do believe she has a happiness that she has always wanted, but I also believe that I could have helped to make it better if I had been stronger.
At the same time, I am only as strong as I have been because of her. I am only as alive as I have been due to her. I am only here simply for her…because she made me want to be here at all. She made me believe.
I cannot repair a past. I cannot continue a “sorry” that is so seemingly pointless. I can only step aside while she lives the life she deserves and say thank you for being the one that gave me life. Thank your for showing me life. Thank you for showing me love. So…thank you with all of my love.
Thank you for being my angel.
*artwork is from prettyportal.tumbler.com