‘What Do I Tell My Sister’ by Katie Saulnier

What do I tell my sister?

Do I tell her to be loud when I know that sometimes silence can save you?

Do I tell her to pick her own direction and march, head held high? I know how easy it is to get lost, and to not realize until you’ve gone as far as you can go.

Do I tell her the things I wish I’d known, or will they be all wrong for her path? I grew by making my own discoveries, but I got hurt too.

What do I tell my mother?

No secrets between us.

Well, a few.

Okay, more than a few. Sorry Mom. But I tell her more than most, and she somehow knows the rest.

I would love to say I listen to her more than I talk, but anyone who knows me will spot that lie.

Who needs to keep a journal with a Mom like that? I’ve recited her a memoir by now. I hope that someday I learn to be quiet long enough to hear hers.

What do I tell my best friend?

The woman I’ve known for 26 years, now with her own little girl, a little girl I love so much it takes my breath away.

I don’t have children of my own. What can I tell her, now that she’s a mother?

The same things as always, thankfully.

That I heard a silly joke the other day. That I miss pretend-swordfighting with her in the park. That the new recipe I just tried is delightful. That sometimes the world makes me so angry and sometimes it makes me jump for joy. That I love her and will do everything I can to make the world safe for her daughter.

What do I tell my sister?

Half my age, but already twice as brave.

Do I tell her that her strength is an asset, when I know it can make her a target, too?

Do I tell her to keep fighting, always, because it reminds you that the world is worth saving, even if it will never be saved?

Do I tell her I don’t have the answers, and I never did?

What will I tell my sister?

Better yet, what will she tell me?


KATIE MICHELLE SAULNIER is a queer and neurodivergent lawyer, academic, and music-lover. She completed a B.A. in Philosophy and English Literature at Mount Allison in 2010, and a B.C.L./LL.B. at the McGill Faculty of Law in 2014. She is very enthusiastic about penguins.


Copyright © 2018 by Katie Michelle Saulnier. All rights reserved.