Summer Short 11
Happy Birthday Beth!
At this stage in the game, I have come to understand just enough about life to understand that I do not understand much of anything.
I mean, not very often.
That being said, I have come to grasp this painful and primal truth: sometimes you can do everything right, forever by the book, and still get screwed. You get something you didn’t deserve for seemingly no good reason except for the most annoying one of all, to grow. Obviously, I find this outrageous but every time I march down to the complaints department, it is closed.
Yet miraculously, because we live in a world of infinite paradoxes, the flip side is also true: sometimes you get blessed for no reason. You get something wonderful you didn’t earn or deserve just because. And those two words, just because, can be your salvation.
My sister Beth is one of my just becauses.
There are many cubic zirconia beautiful people in this world and my sister is one of them. With classic good looks and bone structure that insures she rarely takes a bad photo, she has often been compared to Jackie O. But that isn’t true beauty. True beauty runs deeper.
Anyone who is fortunate enough to meet my sister, knows what true beauty is after they’ve met her. True beauty is the difference between a cubic zirconia and a genuine D-flawless diamond. And although you may not be a certified gemologist, you nonetheless know which one is true just by holding them both in your shaky untrained hands. Your blood knows it. Even the air around you knows it. You know when you’ve just encountered something rare. And rare is valuable.
True beauty makes you feel welcome.
That I was graced with this gift waiting for me the day I arrived in this world has been the winning Powerball ticket I clenched in my tiny baby hand upon delivery. My sister has always made me feel wanted and welcome from the day I was born. And in the face of clearly not having been cherished for who I was by a certain tall, shut-down, absent parental unit in charge, whom I will not name, to have who I am and where I’ve been be seen by her have been the building blocks of the foundation of my self-worth. I have felt safe and embraced and known because of her my whole life like a piece of art in a museum she has been charged with both displaying and protecting.
Even with my most greedy, indulgent, overly self-absorbed behavior, which is often hysterical, I can’t get her to ditch me. It’s as if at birth, her baby foot was inked and stamped onto a contract in agreement that spelled out the terms of her life: Stick Together with Maeve. Forever. I’m sure she doesn’t remember signing anything of the kind. And it is entirely possible she might be seeking legal counsel presently. I’m just saying. She might be.
My sister has been the keeper of the marbled story of my past, the biography of me. She has read and re-read each chapter filled with conflicts, suspense, secrets, fears, triumphs, dreams, comedy and tragedy. She has memorized each line, each word, the spaces between each line and holds all of its contents on a special shelf in the library of her heart reserved just for me. Never loses them. Never forgets the call number. And although there has been lots of ruin in some recent chapters, she is always eager to turn the page to see what happens next. To hope for treasure. To root for the gorgeous, witty, protagonist with big blue eyes flecked with gold full of unflinching intelligence.
I’m 99.9% sure she roots for me too.
This is her gift. And she is unabashedly generous with it so she is able to cast her net wide enough to hold many other people’s stories as well. These people are my mortal enemies.
Nah. Just kidding.
Regardless, I like to imagine she pays extra, careful attention to my cracked and fragile hardcover.
It is no small thing to encounter someone who inhabits the capacity to see and affirm the common pulse of life found in others, no matter how different they may seem from them, largely because it is exceedingly rare in a world that is not nearly as hospitable as one might have hoped.
Someone who understands that giving is the secret to receiving what is essential. Someone who makes you feel like a benediction and always makes time for you, especially when she is a really busy person. Someone who you can dump all your heart’s pockets onto and still feel that you are worth something. Someone who feeds and nourishes the spirit of those around them, who reminds you that you are loved and valued for the real you and not just the shiny more socially acceptable version you bring to cocktail parties. No need to stand up straight, go on a dangerous juice cleanse, laugh a little less nasally, be less annoying, neurotic or needy or cry less often.
These people shine so brightly with the spirit of welcoming you just the way you are that people are naturally drawn to their luminous light.
These are diamond people.
If you are lucky, life will tuck one of these rare and priceless diamonds, brilliantly faceted and shining, right smack inside the folds of your life. To help light your way through your deepest sorrows and sparkle with you in your greatest joys.
I smile with a secret greedy pleasure that I get to call one of the rarest, largest, and GIA-certified most D-flawless diamonds, sister.