I updated my FB messenger the other day. A mundane task not worthy of writing about, except that later, I was searching for a date reminder on messenger when I discovered that now, with the update, I could see all my old messages! Messages going back ten years. Yes. Of course I looked, and there were messages from my sister. My sister who has been gone for nearly five years now.
I guess I do not need to tell you that I spent the next hour and a half reading old correspondence… laughing and crying and remembering. I was reminded, through these old messages how brilliant my sister really was. And like most brilliant people I know, she was complicated. Eloquent. Witty. Heartbreaking. She had demons and she knew it. She expressed it clearly. She was fighting a hard, hard fight.
Since then two of my daughters have gotten married. I have become a grandmother, and… well… so has she. And I wish she had been around for all of that. Every time I put a note in the mail, or a gift, or look at a picture of her twin grandbabies I just wish she was here.
Here is the deal. When she died we were in a fight…. sort of a fight. I had decided that “I was done!” This was not meant as an attack on her, but please know, my heart had been broken one time too many, and I felt like I needed to protect my girls. So we stopped communicating. This woman who was, without a doubt, my best friend, the woman who knew me better than pretty much everyone, except perhaps my husband, this lovely, complicated woman and I never spoke again.
I have battled with myself whether I should write about our relationship. It is this raw thing just under the surface, because, you should know that when I spent those last hours with her, holding her hand, beautifully manicured of course, I regretted it. I regretted not taking her phone calls. I regretted not helping her when she asked, no matter how ridiculous the request, and then when she stopped calling me, when she was pisssed at me, I regretted not begging forgiveness for being such an icy bitch to her.
2019 is at an end, 2020 looms ahead full of stellar promises, and yet I am nostalgic and feeling sappy and guilty and have decided that this experience, this roller-coaster of a relationship and my response to it, feels too big to begin to mold into something as simple as a New Year Resolution. It should certainly fall into the Life Style Change category. Honestly, I have a hard time simply putting the thoughts down accurately. But the words kindness and tolerance should be included. Forgiveness and love as well.
In spite of the fight, in spite of feelings of guilt, the surprising thing as I re-read the old messages, was that it was just not as ugly as I remembered. Perhaps it grew larger in my memory. It was also clear that we communicated best through writing. I even said, “I mean do you think that it is odd that we seem to write about the real stuff, and not-so-much face to face (or phone)?” I don’t have the emails, but I do have the messages and she was pretty raw, and I as I read, I held my breath, praying that I offered loving supportive messages in return, and I did, for the most part, but damn pride. She was sick, and I had the upper hand, and every now and then I used it. Not enough to foster any more guilt, and actually left me feeling a little relieved, because it wasn’t as bad as I imagined, it was generally loving and supportive, but WHY did I feel like I had to chastise her sometimes? Is it a big sister thing? Trying to channel our mother – who by the way would be nothing but kind, I just do not know.
Resolution/Life change for 2020 and forever. Be quick to forgive and love. Remember to act with kindness and tolerance.
3 thoughts on “Resolution for 2020 (and Forever)”
We are always our harshest critic. I remember the struggles, and the frustration, and the feeling that somehow someone had to help with the demons, but that it was beyond what I could do, also, with self protection, and prayers that someone, somehow can make it better. I celebrate the good times, the talent, the beauty, and know that she would not want you (us) to focus on the demons, but on the good days, months and years. Forgiveness! Understanding! That is love!
Your story really reflects the connection between siblings and how there are always issues within families. In the memoir the reflection that you had back on the messages and the way you saw them really impacted me. Along with the metaphor you used “a roller-coaster relationship” really goes into many relationships of many and how everyone has their ups and downs in life. Demonstrating how sometimes in life we might seem to come off a certain way but upon reflection that all changes or how time changes our way of seeing things. I enjoyed how you wrote it as a flashback using the messages/ emails to convey that past memory and then came back to how your life’s have change since then. While also portraying a resolution to your issue and to others possible issues, that in spite of all the guilt one should still love, forgive, and be kind and tolerant .
Thank you for your thoughtful response. Siblings are awfully complicated…don’t you think? I am sure my thoughts and feelings are not new or unique, I know we walked the walk that many many siblings did.