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An Open Letter: To You, My Little Sister

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All this because I forgot how to say, I love you.

Little sister,

I never told you -- not enough -- how much I love you. How much you mean. I never told you, little sister, how big of a presence you are in my life. How big an inspiration you've always been.

Little sister, I used to squirm and clench my teeth when I heard. Your voice. It sounded so young, so innocent. Shouting Sissy across the elementary school courtyard. Telling me you saw.

Me in your life, little sister. Me. And I never turned back to see you. Not enough. Always afraid who was watching. To tease me as a "Sissy," I could have been proud. I wish I was proud. Because, little sister, you were.

Proud to be heard. I know because I listened. To you. Your laughter in Spanish class. The keys of your flip phone pushing down strings of letters to a friend. I never read.

Not a single text from you. Not until yesterday. Until it felt foreign. To text that I love you. I hadn't said that before. Not enough. Not in that tone.

And, little sister, I wish I listened. To your needs. When I was sick, and you were home. I had forgotten: you were still there. Still growing. You were still a little girl who needed a big sister, and a mom. I wish I realized.

How you gave up so much. To be my little sister, I never imagined. What life must have been like -- in transit. California to Arizona. Arizona to Colorado. Colorado to Boston. Your family a moving target. Like the word -- "love" -- we never caught up.

To what was important, little sister. A family huddled around the white oak coffee table burning candles for the seventh night. Our prayers harmonizing with the puppy's howling and the bird's chirping. Celebration. For the miracle of light.

And it was light. Often, in our house. I remember. Through the glass sliding doors of the dining room. The sun shone. I only wish, little sister, that you were old enough. To remember, too, how warm the sun felt. How much joy we shared. In those moments. Those most simple days when seconds lasted hours and we told time in episodes of Barney.

We counted that time together, little sister. Often. And you made up songs -- with me. Standing in the curtains, singing for the camera. We did that in duet, made those memories for both of us. I only hope, little sister, that your home videos outlast the longevity of our VHS recorder. Because those memories belong to you, too. Little sister, they are for you, too.

I watch them sometimes. Alone. Those videos of us swaying before the cantor to light the Shabbat candles. With the volume off. Looking at your face, and the wave of your long, blonde hair. Always on mute.

For the only sound that matters is the sing-song nagging of a 3-year-old tugging at her sister's flowered dress for a lap.

Can you see me, little sister. I'm sitting. Cross-legged on the rug. My lap is open.

The doctor said she would live in a nursing home, confined to a wheelchair, crippled by pain; that was thirteen years ago. Instead, Mirissa D. Price is a 2019 DMD candidate at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, spreading pain-free smiles, writing through her nights, and, once again, walking through her days.

Stay up to date with Mirissa's writing at https://mirissaprice.wordpress.com/ and follow Mirissa on Twitter or Facebook.