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Survivor's Guilt

Survivor’s guilt is not a fleeting moment.

It’s to be born into arms that weren’t ready to hold you so you overcompensate by shrinking yourself down into the shy demure girl that wouldn’t cause too much trouble and follows all rules and abides by tradition because her life is already about atonement.

It’s to paint your world in black and white – in rewards and punishment – so that grey areas become the cracks in tiles to skip over as she considers herself a pony her loved ones have a placed a bet on so slowing down for a recess was never really an option, and sure enough she would gallop home with straight As and first place, only to return to an older brother who could never save face, and she would watch her reflection in his eyes change from baby sister to opponent.

It’s to be barely five feet, and to still overshadow your protector because you thrived off a life that was guarded by rules and expectations so while others entered college wallowing in confusion, you basked in the safety of classroom walls and walked out with a plan that was practical and intellectual so everyone looks over your shoulder at him – the older brother, the canopy of protection – and deemed his dreams a mere game, and his passion redundant for simply being bold and different.

It’s to sit opposite him in a tiny tent that is big enough for just us, and to revel in each other’s triumphs for we helped each other grow up and reach for different stars so we could make new homes amongst constellations that would transcend worldly praise and expectations and it would no longer be about who is outliving the other, for we would be far away from worldly scales of judgment.

It’s to stand opposite your brother’s coffin and watch the streaks of pain kissing his neck as his chest refuses to elevate with his breath and you wonder how someone who promised you at the age of nine that he will live forever, somehow lies here on his deathbed. It’s to have to scramble a lifetime worth of words on a couple of rushed sheets of paper as you try to make sense of a world with your partner. It’s to have to experience the drive home from the funeral. It’s to have to wake up the next day, and the next, and the next, and do it all over again, regardless of how difficult or dismal. It’s to watch the grief fluctuate from mundane to physically painful, and to every day, introduce you to yet another level. It’s to realize that even if one day his death is ten years ago on the calendar, for me it will still be an ongoing journey of my life rather than just a quotient.

Survivor’s guilt is not a fleeting moment.

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