This I Believe

Helen - Birmingham, Alabama
Entered on August 5, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, love

My sister left for college less than a month ago, August 23, 2006. For the most part, the day ran smoothly; even the weather was unusually pleasant for an Alabama summer. The clock struck 2:24 p.m., which marked the time for most students to go to their next, and last, class of the day. But, because I have a job after school, I am allowed to leave early. I dashed out of my last class, keys in hand, determined to get home and spend the most time possible with my sister before she left. Well, I got home in record time and was greeted by our family’s SUV, trunk open, ready to be packed. My stomach flew up into my throat as I entered the house. I stood there and watched as my older sister packed her life in various boxes and bags. It was 2:30. I had 20 minutes before I had to leave for work. I had planned on talking to Janet about her fears, goals, you know, all the cliché stuff, but after seeing the car and the bags I no longer wanted to. I don’t know what I wanted to do, but I didn’t think I could force small talk, much less deep conversation. I decided to busy myself by getting ready for my job, but after I changed into my shirt and grabbed my hat, there was nothing else to do but watch. So I sat there: watching, waiting, and prolonging the now 10 minutes we had left living together. There was a silent calm that settled in the room. My sister and I got the “chatty” genes and neither of us cared for silence; normally one of us would try to fill it with a new joke, story, anything, but this silence was different, it was welcomed. We knew what was to come, we both experienced the same pain either of leaving or watching someone go, and we were able to express our pain through this silence. The silence impacted us more than any amount of talking could have and, when the time came to say goodbye, that was simply what was said, “goodbye.” As I walked towards my car, a little later than I should have left for work, I turned back and caught my sister’s eye. She lifted up her hand and waved “goodbye.” I have never felt more emotion in a single moment than I did right then. On my sister’s last day home and my last day at home with sister one word was said. The rest: our feelings, emotions, and love, were expressed through the power of silence.

Never would I have thought silence would mean so much to me. I pride myself so much on my ability to prevent silence that I miss out on the glory that lies within it. I realize sometimes there are no words that can be said, and that is not a bad thing. No words can be said because no words are meant to be said. Unspoken communication conveys a deeper message than any amount of words could, therefore I believe there is great power in silence.