I’ve begun doing interviews about my new work — my book, the accompanying record — and as usual, the process is making me do some searching. It’s one thing to make things that are highly personal. It’s another to have people ask you questions about that work and have to dig up answers to explain, to elucidate, to even justify…
I’m doing okay with it so far — I know why I did what I did and mostly what I want to say about it all. But I get choked up on one subject: Sissy. When someone asks me about her I hear a catch in my throat. My eyes often brim with tears. I know I have to talk about her, but because she’s still here, as the one remaining member of my immediate family of origin besides me, I feel protective of her. It’s one thing to talk about people who’ve been gone for over thirty years. It’s another to talk about someone who isn’t but who was there too, and in some ways, more there than I was.
She told me the other day that she hadn’t previously been able to see herself the way I presented her in my memoir — that she hadn’t recognized, maybe not ever, her own experience or how she’d embodied it, how she carries it, how it affects everything she does. I suppose sometimes others see us better than we see ourselves. Others are certainly usually more capable of giving us leeway, of granting us grace, of forgiving us, championing us, naming our perfections and our flaws, SEEING us, and understanding us. We often don’t do those things for ourselves as well as those who love us can. And we certainly can’t do those things as willingly as those who love us can.
I see my sister as a warrior. As a warrior who truly knows what it is to fight for the very breath of life, for dignity, for all of the things that keep our hearts beating in this world that seems to sometimes want to stop them at every turn. She carries her shield, her purpose, her perpetually open wounds, and the scars of those she has managed to close. She is strong, beautiful, fragile, tenacious, calculating, crazy — a gorgeous and brilliant survivalist with a whip-smart and incredibly foxy brain.
I do not know another heart better than I know hers. And what a gift that is. We are bonded as sisters, of course, but we also have the bonds of music, of brokenness, of common and traumatic experience — those things fasten us to each other like the leather straps on ancient armor fasten it to a body — and most of the time, the prong of the buckle is through the hole that adheres it on the tightest setting.
I am so lucky to have a fantastic and large circle of unbelievably loyal and kind girlfriends who love me. I know I wouldn’t have them if I didn’t have a sister — for she taught me how to do most of the good things I know how to do. I thank God for her every day.
I have a sister, therefore I am rich beyond measure.
So much love to y’all.
Peace and love and happy Wednesday, and happy early birthday to Sissy.
PS — photo by Savannah Yarbrough