Monday, September 30, 2013

An Open Letter To My Sister

Dear Janelle:

Where do I even begin? As I was falling asleep last night, my brain was busy coming up with possible ways to open this letter. Because, let's face it, you're an extremely private person. I know you're not going to want me to write this letter -- to be so public about something that you'd rather keep private. And, you might even be a bit irritated that I'm even writing this letter in the first place. But I kept coming back to one truth last night as I was thinking about this letter: Maybe I need to say these words (well, write them...) as much as you need to hear them.

I know you've been struggling. It hasn't just been in the last few weeks or the last few months. You've been struggling since father died. You may not want to admit that, but it's true. Where Ms. Bear and I sent our emotions out into the world (the good ones and the bad ones), you internalized them. You collected every last one, stuffing it down farther and farther until you were left with a pressure cooker of emotions just waiting to explode at any moment.
And when you said you were "fine"? I hate that word. Because you were most definitely not fine. I'm sorry for all the times I took your "fine" at face value. I didn't know how to make you be more honest with me, so maybe I didn't try as hard as I should have? Or maybe I was too scared of what I'd find if I tried to open your wounds?

I know you feel lonely, and that just breaks my heart. I hope you know that I am here for you. Day and night. Always and forever. I just wish you could see your beauty like I do. You are such a wonderful person, and I'd give anything for you to see what I see. You have a journey ahead of you, but first? You need to begin to love yourself. Please? I know you can do it. Let your mother and sister's love for you be the foundation on which you build your love for yourself. You have to start somewhere, so let us help you.
I know I've said it out loud millions of times, but losing you is my biggest fear. And, as you know, fear is a very powerful emotion. It can make us say and do things we wouldn't normally do and say. It can make us vulnerable. It even brings our most primal emotions to the surface. So before we know it, we're acting on instinct, wrapped up in the fight-or-flight mentality. It's all too easy for our fears to get the better of us. And for me, you're my biggest fear. I can't lose you. I won't lose you. We're in this together, remember? So hold on, and let those who love you help you the most. We're here, and we're not going anywhere. I love you more than anything in the entire cosmos, as we used to tell each other, and you'll always be my Sister Bear... xoxo


  1. So full of emotion and love for Janelle. So beautifully written. There is hope and love that Janelle can be happy and enjoy the love around her. She has a wonderful family to help and support her through her down time. Hopefully she's just going through a short rough spot in her life. Let's hope this letter will help her see what she's missing and realize the love that's all around her. All the best to Janelle. Beautiful pictures of the two of you.

  2. Very sweet and profound letter. Will she read it? I've two little girls now - two years apart - and I truly hope they love each other the way you love your sister.

  3. *sniffle* Very powerful - there is something special about the bond between two sisters.

  4. Such a sweet and heartfelt letter. I like that you tell her that she can be honest and open about her struggles with you. I'm lucky enough to have a sister that I can also talk to you about stuff that isn't all happy. It's wonderful to have someone to rely on. Someone that you don't have to say, "I'm fine." to but rather tell them how you really are.

  5. Lovely! So powerful! Thanks for sharing, Melissa! xxx

  6. I internalised my emotions when my dad died too, it's just another way of coping and is just as valid a way of dealing with things as talking about it is. Maybe when your sister says she's fine it's because she is fine in that moment. There are times when it hurts and times when it doesn't. You have to let her cope in her own way because, in my experience, pushing someone to open up on something they really don't want to is the perfect way of losing them. I hope your sister is OK, but please try to respect her grieving process as I'm sure she has respected yours. Be there when she wants you to be but don't push her to be something she isn't. I'm not saying this to be mean, I can just see how much your sister means to you, and I don't want you to accidentally push her away with your implied kindness. I hope things get better soon x


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