In memory of Amber

The trouble with birth order is

That we tell ourselves stories and

Take up the roles before we know that it’ll be forever


”She’s older than me, she’s picking on me”

I’m the victim, not the antagonist,

And this becomes the way we tell it, and play it

For our whole lives

Even when older and younger doesn’t mean anything

And you’re both putting on weight

And feeling your bones and wishing the makeup would hide the wrinkles not sit in them

You sit hard caked in your roles

And it’s hard to move for both of you,

Even the victim story is getting old and pretty tired and droopy.

But maybe someone can move first

A kind word directed sideways during a family dinner

“She always does so much for Mom, and I’m grateful for that”

Gets passed along like a gift and is repeated

and swallowed along with the turkey and gravy and Mom’s solid mashed potatoes

Really mashed, not whipped with garlic

The mail is a great healer (thank you Canada Post)

Birthdays always remembered with a card and few “scratch” Bingo cards

Hoping you’d win just so you’d have an excuse to call,

Share the windfall and make peace

Sickness too is an opening

A way to just show up “that’s what family does” and not have to explain

No one says, Why you are here or You never got along.

Eyes averted and no mention of the years of silence and

Happy 25th Anniversary without mentioning

How you were not invited to my wedding, and I was edited out of your wedding video

Which runs on a loop in your hospital room so I can see my absence.

For the first time I see you as a bride, full of joy and promise and I am ashamed.

But today I can whisper in your ear, “I remember when I was little, you wanted to be a hairdresser, and you let me pick the picture in the trade magazine and you gave me my first shag haircut and I was the envy of my friends…I love you. I’m here. We’re all here.”

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