Broken Scissors and the Love of a Sister

They’ve been sitting on my desk for a year.

There in the bowl with a few business cards, my pink car adapter, and a stray house key.

When the scissors broke I had thrown them in the trash.

But when I realized what I had done, I realized I wasn’t ready, and I pulled them right back out.

The first time I cut her hair she was in college. Her hair was short and thick and in need of a quick trim. And me? I was 10, and I wasn’t doing anything just then.

She knelt to the floor of the bathroom in my mother’s apartment, and I tentatively snipped each thick section, sure I was going to mess something up. But she was confident I could do it; content to entrust her hairdo to the hands of her little sister.

“Don’t worry,” she said, “It’s fine.”

By the time I was 20, I was regularly cutting her hair. She had made it an appointment, and even bought me the best pair of scissors to do the job – silver shears with blue and black handles, delicate and sharp.

She’d arrive at my first-floor apartment and I’d drag a mismatched dining chair 3 feet backward through the door that opened to my bathroom. I’d find my spray bottle and then the scissors, and she’d sit while I trimmed.

Her hair was still short, still thick.

And she was still confident, still content to let me cut.

And I was still sure I was going to mess something up.

Because of her movements, her disease. By then she could no longer keep herself still and it was like trimming hair while crossing railroad tracks. I worried I would get it wrong. Worried, that I might accidentally hurt her.

“Don’t worry,” she said, “It’s fine.”

Those scissors lasted me into my 30’s. They lasted longer than she did.

But now they are broken and it’s time to throw them out. It’s time to get new ones.

Yet I worry.

Because I don’t want to get it wrong. I don’t want to mess this memory up.

But I know what she’d say:

Confident and content, she’d toss them in the trash.

“Don’t worry. It’s fine.”

Note to Reader: My sister passed away 5 years ago from the date of this posting. She died of Huntington’s Disease. To read more of her story and mine, check out the related post: In the Shadow of Huntington’s Disease: “Will You Be Tested?”

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