I sensed her whimper before I heard it. My eyes sought her out the moment the words were spoken aloud. I watched them register. Watched her flinch away, closing her eyes against the memory. And all I wanted to do in that moment was wrap her up in my arms, clamp my hands over her ears and whisper, “You didn’t hear that, baby.”
But she did hear it, and nothing I could do would remove those words that had already dug their sharp claws into her fragile heart.
If time could be rewound, I would have spared her that reminder that stabbed like knives into an already bleeding heart. But then, if time could be rewound, she’d go back a month and make it so that there was nothing to be remembered. No tragedy would befall a girl who held all of time in her hands. But the only place time rewinds is in her eyes where she relives the moment for the hundredth time.
And I realize that she will always be this way. She will always cringe as certain words—certain sights and smells and sounds—send her back to that moment of helplessness and despair. And even if I could have sheltered her in that moment, I can’t shelter her forever. And the hardest thing is realizing that she doesn’t even know what it means to be sheltered anymore.
And as she drowns in the depths of her pain, these are the lyrics that beat in my heart:
Baby, baby, you deserve so much more than a lifetime of being trapped in that moment where the victim song became a familiar melody to you. You deserve to be sheltered a little bit longer—just a little bit longer.
You weren’t meant to be an empty shell, broken and haunted by events that were always beyond your control—even when you were in the thick of them, they were beyond your control. You were meant to sing. Loudly. And you were born to dance. Freely. And you were always made for shining your light even when you’re shining all on your own.
And I know it isn’t fair that you’re the one who has to relight the candles when the whole world has gone dark, but, baby, can’t you see that you’re the only one brave enough to rekindle the flame? And I would wrap you up in my arms and carry you the rest of the way, but I think your legs are actually stronger than mine if you’ll only remember how to use them. And I know the world has been rocking crazy here of late, but you’re more sure-footed than you realize. And you—you know the way. Even in the dark, you’ll find your way.
I’ll be here to hold your hand if you need me. I would never expect you to try to navigate this life all on your own. But, girl, if you’re looking for someone who will simply cry with you, you’ve turned to the wrong arms. Because that’s not what you need. It may be what you think you want, but it’s not what you need.
And mine will always be the voice that whispers, “Girl, you’ve got this. I know you’ve got this.”
Because you’re a survivor; not a victim.
There are no victims here.
And maybe I can hold you while the world rocks crazy, but, baby, you can take it from here.