Because you have become my friends, I feel I can write a post that comes directly from my heart. I don’t wonder about what you will think or that I might drive some readers away. My hope in writing a post like The Lost Sister is that it will touch a chord within you, explain a little bit more about me and perhaps spark a discussion. We’re here to help each other.
It clearly did that. So many of you shared your own stories of loss. I plan on responding to each one of you by email if I can. If there isn’t a way to reach you, know that I was enormously moved by your stories and by your bravery in sharing them with me and with the readers of this blog. Every family has some tale of loss and separation. It’s the kind of thing that we tend not to talk about because it is simply too painful. Somehow or other, we compartmentalize it, put it away in a box and go on with our daily lives because we have to. As some of you said so eloquently in your comments, siblings can grow up together in the same environment, play together, laugh and cry together, yet somehow along the way become strangers. Something misfires, some secret heartache or pain buried deep within eventually drives that sibling away.
And you’re powerless to stop it.
When I was growing up, in the age of perfect television families like those in Father Knows Best or The Donna Reed Show, I used to wonder what it felt like to be a part of that kind of family. Don’t get me wrong, we were a loving family and my parents were always there for us. But my dad was an alcoholic and emotionally fragile; he had huge mood swings, his temper was always just about to explode. I could relax around my mom, but I could never relax when my father was in the room. I never knew when the atmosphere would suddenly change and his temper would blow and terrible things would be said. There was a lot of yelling in our house. To this day, I can’t deal with voices raised in anger, though I am surely guilty of it myself at times. It reminds me of horrible arguments, doors slamming, tears shed and apologies never given.
I looked at the home life of my friends and was absolutely sure that everything must be peaceful and calm within those walls. I was jealous of them. Of course, we all know that those glimpses of another person’s life are not the whole story.
My dad was and is a troubled man. But he’s also a very loving, good man, steadfast and devoted to his family. Nothing is black or white, that I have learned for sure.
Throughout it all, we girls had a fierce bond with each other. We were devoted to each other. That, of course, makes the pain of the separation that has happened even more acute.
Every family has a secret or two. Or three or four. We all do the best we can to become fully functioning, caring, good people, in spite of and because of what has framed our past. I can only believe that my sister, L, has done what she had to do in order to cope with her life. What demons drive her, I don’t know. I could take a guess, but without an honest conversation, I will never truly know. I can only surmise. I will say that, emotionally, she is very like my father.
Meredith and I have spent a great deal of time over the years working through my dad’s alcoholism and how it affected us as children and as adults. We’ve helped each other to heal. Those conversations have made our bond as sisters steadfast and deeper than ever.
How I wish that L would have dared to have a conversation with one or both of us about her own particular demons. Perhaps it would have helped. I know we would have done whatever we could to help her.
For all of you who are coping with the deliberate absence of a once close and dear relative in your life, I wish you peace. All we can do is try the best we can and, if that doesn’t work, accept the reality and release it.
Blessings to you all.