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There was so much to prove after you died…

I had to prove you wrong for dying. I had to wake up every single morning with a sliver of the sun and a river of tears ready to flow as I tied my hair and painted my face and ate chocolate glazed donuts that hid in my teeth and soaked my tongue in colorful drinks and took deep breaths surrounded by trees and thought to myself “you could’ve done this too”.

I had to prove you wrong for not surviving. I’d sit in front of computer screens for hours a day with different tabs holding a different future – do I want to write or do I want to teach or do I want to move to Thailand and give tattoos on a beach? – as I juggle my options on my fingers and wonder for a brief second how much easier it would be to glide a blade across my arms just so I can be in yours again but then when I remember why you aren’t here anymore, it makes sense that I have to be, just to prove that it can be done.

I had to prove others wrong for thinking they are innocent. I had to sit in front of noisy old women and pretentious old men as they spat out advice as consolation, blamed me for not knowing any better, accused me of abandoning my family, and stole my right to grieve as your younger sister because a daughter is always a caretaker before human, while they sat on their pockets full of lies and secrets so I learned to let them finish harping on before holding a mirror up to their face and asking them what they would have done in my place? They continue to spew bullshit in any case but now I ask for my own space and have learned to walk away.

I had to prove others wrong for thinking I needed them. Those who stood by me as I ran after your coffin on the last day with the soles of my feet burning under a raging sun, as if it reflected all the anger burning in my heart. Those who appeared after years of silence and those who had been here throughout. Those who were there to absolve their own guilt and those who were there to absorb my pain. I would stare at their blank expressions as they would wait for my confessions of grief and pain and fear but my words get lost somewhere in my throat because despite all their love, eventually they get in their cars and drive back to a life that may not be great but at least its familiar while I lie awake in an imposter’s world, waiting to be saved. I had to prove that I could save myself, so I let my words swim inside me until they tattoo my insides into a mess as I push all the love away, and now I don’t remember when solitude became such bone-aching loneliness.

I had to prove my life was still worth living to myself. I had to prove that I was strong enough to come out of a tragedy. I had to prove to my younger brother that there are more roads left. I thought I was proving it to the world, but it was all really for me. Because after you died it was so much easier to take up arms and rush out onto the battlefield, with a sword in the air against all those who made you feel small until you shrunk into oblivion. It was so much easier to think there was a battle to still be fought even though there were already casualties. If I could spend enough time fighting the rest of the world, perhaps that would prove that had I known before, I would’ve fought to keep you alive too. Every single day I have to prove I will always love and remember you for you, but I also have to prove that I never knew what you were going through, so did I really ever even know you? Every single day I untangle my web of proofs and sit in dark, empty rooms all alone wondering how long will it be until people see through my suit of armor and find a weak, pig-tailed, starry-eyed and scared little girl simply missing you?

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