Lifestyle, Outfits, Style

How my sister saved my life.

Outfit Details:

Coat is old (bought in Tokyo 4 years ago)

Atlantic-Pacific skirt 

 Seychelles shoes

 tissue turtleneck


My little sister Tessa is my angel; she saved my life when she was born. I went through some traumatic experiences that left me a maladjusted, basket case of a child. My nerves were so bad, I would throw up daily and cry to the point of exhaustion — I couldn’t sleep, wanted to die, and didn’t know how to cope with my fear and anxiety. It worried my family sick. I would be remiss to overlook the role a few of my incredible teachers and counselors played in making me whole again (a story for another day, because teachers are truly superheroes), but my sister’s birth changed my whole world. It wasn’t immediate; in fact, I was angry when my mom announced her pregnancy. I think most newborns are reminiscent of tiny aliens or little old men or angry potatoes who have suddenly come to life, and rarely get attached until their personalities start to shine through. But when that time came, she was everything. She gave me a purpose. I was so enamored by her, so concerned for her well-being and constant joy that I forgot about my own problems and focused on “raising” her, much to the surprise and delight of my family. She had actual parents who doted on and cared for her, but with eleven years between us, I’ve often treated her more like a daughter and less like a sister. 

My mom likes to joke that she had Tessa for me. I think, in some distant and serendipitous way, that’s one of the reasons she was born: to save me and give me a second chance to experience childhood without the suffering, and to give me a reason to hold on to that small will to live and persist when any trauma returned. Even in my happiest moments, even now that I’m free from perpetual melancholy and I walk with my shoulders upright, she is my joy. 

Tomorrow, my baby sister will be 23.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to accept that she’s an adult with a career and a serious boyfriend, but I am extraordinarily proud of her. I’d love to tell you I have something to do with it, but that’s all her. She’s kind, intelligent, ambitious, an absolute dynamo, and beautiful both inside and out. Though I wish she would’ve chosen a safer career path — she’s a firefighter/paramedic — it only makes sense that the little girl who saved my life has gone on to save countless others. Happy birthday, Tessa Marie. 


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  1. Paige says:

    Read this in my car and nearly ugly cried. Thank you for being so vulnerable. You are such a strong woman with a beautiful redemptive story. Even though you aren’t that much older than me, I really look up to you!

  2. Anitra Morgan says:

    What a wonderful and moving heartfelt post. Thank you as always for sharing not only the fun stuff, but also a piece of your life, heart and journey. There is comfort in knowing that others have challenges that they have fought and fight through and continuously come out of the other end with with a fight and thankful for what helped them get there. ❤️ Family is everything. In whatever form or version it may be to each of us.

  3. Katrina says:

    This is such an incredibly powerful and moving post. Even after following along your journey from the early LJ days, when Tessa was still in think in middle school(?), I knew you were protective and doting of her but never knew why. Sisters are incredible!

  4. Eleanor May says:

    This is a lovely post! Happy birthday to your sister..

  5. Kirsten says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. My little sister and I have 13 years between us and our story was quite similar. I had constant anxiety (and still do) as a child and her presence was life changing. We have amazing parents but they worked hard and needed help. We have an older sister too but she was off to college after Sonia was adopted and so she wasn’t around as much. Sonia used to call me mom and her first word was KK (my family’s nickname for me). She’s 12 now and growing up to be such an amazing and smart kid. Sometimes I tear up thinking that she’s not a baby anymore but I’m so proud of her. Caring for her and spending time with her still calms me to this day. Family can be such an amazing gift. Happy birthday, Tessa!

  6. Jennifer L says:

    Thank you for sharing! What a beautiful testimony to the power of true familial love. We all need more of this in our lives.

  7. Allison says:


    But really though, tearing up at my desk reading this because sisters really are the best. I loved this post! Thank you for sharing!

  8. Panty Buns says:

    Happy birthday to your sister Tessa! I hope her birthday wishes all come true.
    I LOVE all three of those autumn OOTDs!!!
    The joyful photos of the three of you together are wonderful.
    I’m so sorry reading that you experienced the trauma you did as a child,
    but warmed that your teachers and counsellors along with the arrival of Tessa have given you the gift new happier second chance childhood experiences.
    I love the combined look of the colourful checked jacket, white hat, dark blue turtleneck, and swingy quilted dark blue skirt you styled together.

  9. Linda Jenkins says:

    What a beautiful post, Keiko. You write with such clear and real emotion. Also glad to read the positive support you had from teachers and counselors. Sisters are the best!! ♥️