As we lay side by side on the creaky double sized bed, she poured out a section of her heart she’d never shown to anyone before. She whispered quietly into my ear that she was scared, scared of death and all things to come.
Her words forced tears from my eyes and anguish from my soul. My beautiful ten year old baby sister was worried about oblivion, fearing her own death and planning her own service, all behind her wide green eyes, seen entirely brand new through my own pair. I pressed my lips to her pale neck, trying to muster up not only the words, but the courage in explaining that she was one day going to die. It burnt away at the bitter and tattered edges of my soul that it was factors like these her mind was focused on. Curiosity seemed to swallow my tongue. I was confronted with so many questions I wanted her to share that answers with. What exactly was it that lay behind the vivid green eyes homed in her ticking mind? She was a mere shell at this current moment, but I could already see her taking shape. Her arms were fresh, but I could trace where I predicted the skin to home scars, some she’d hate, and some she’d love.
She was only a mere ten years old and she was asking me how not to fear death.
The cracking of my heart was a mere echo in the shallow cave of my humanity. The shards of my mental health threatened to prick her small feet as I imagined her roaming through the broken pieces of my wits. I couldn’t tell her, couldn’t let her into the inner working of my mind, such things a ten year old wouldn’t simply forget. So I did what all the adults these days seem to do.
I vaguely explained the concept of death, but refused to explain how much it would kill me if I ever lost somebody close.
Because if I lost her, a part of me would be forced to die along with her, forever forcing me into a state of my own personal awaking oblivion. And I couldn’t let her know that, I couldn’t show her how her question scared me just as much as it scared her. For her sake, I had to pretend death didn’t scare me, force away the urges to cry along with her, our voices in union shouting for the answers, our noise drowned away by the adults telling us to keep quiet. For her sake, I had to pretend I wasn’t scared, pretend I was strong.