What you cannot see with your eyes

It is April 2000, the first day of a new school year. I step out of my house with the rose-pink schoolbag on my shoulder. It is a bright sunny day with warm breeze.

“Have a great day,” calls out my mother from behind, following me outside in her sandals to see me off.

“See you later!”

I start walking. These days, I walk to school on my own. It is easier this way than making arrangement with my friends to go to school together.

A sense of excitement fills my heart as I march through the little park behind my house. Today is the first day of the new school year. Everything feels fresh. My classmates remain the same as last year, but we will have a new teacher. I cannot wait to discover what kind of teacher he will be! And what about my new seating? Who will I be sitting next to?

Just when I come out of the park onto a wide street, I find my friend walking ahead of me. Her little sister is walking beside her, holding her hand. There is a bright yellow cover on her brand-new schoolbag, indicating that she is a first-grader. Today is the first school day for her.

Not far from my friend, I spot another girl walking with her little sister whose schoolbag also has the yellow cover. Suddenly, my buoyant mood vanishes. Instead of running up to them, my step slows down. My eyes are glued to the two little girls walking next to my two friends. Jealousy rapidly grows in my heart.

My brother should have been here. A voice rings in my head. He is also starting school today.

“It’s not fair that he’s not here,” I say to myself. “I wanted to hold his hand, too. I wanted to be his big sister on his first day at school!”

A tingly sensation fills my nose, followed by dampness in my eyes. I quickly look up at the sky to push back my tears even though nobody is watching, and I wait there quietly until the intensity of my emotion passes.

When both my friends have gone far down the street, I finally start moving. But I dare not make a sound. I tiptoe behind them so as my existence not to be discovered.

Later that day, I sit down in front of a piece of paper. I cannot forget about what happened this morning. Well, nothing really happened except in my head. But that is exactly what left me hurt.

Nobody saw my brother this morning except me. Why? Because he no longer exists physically. Because people cannot see him anymore. To their eyes, I am an “only child,” and the loss of my brother is a story in the past.

But it is not.

It is not in the past.

Otherwise, how could I have felt what I felt this morning? It was as if stumbling upon a whole new hole inside my heart. This one is different from the hole I felt right after his passing. This one is new.

I start jotting down words that have exploded in my head. I am speaking to the people who fail to see what exists in my eye. I want them to know that what they can see with their eyes is not everything that exists in this world. That there are things that can only be seen with their hearts, and those are as real as the person in front of them, or the road that they walk upon.

The words eventually form a poem. A poem that describes the day as my heart has seen it. I am walking to school with my brother hand in hand, congratulating him on his first day at school and feeling ever prouder as his big sister.