I love my family. BUT – we are all very different people. I have certain characteristics from both of my parents of course – but my combination of traits is much different than my brother’s and sister’s. Needless to say, then, that we’re each handling my sister’s passing very differently.
My father is the most open about his feelings. He wants to talk and share…in the extreme. He wants us to all fall apart and lean on one another. He keeps telling me that I need to “show my emotions.” Thatjustmakesmewanttopunchhimintheface. Fine…not really…but I don’t like being told how to feel about this. My mother is handling this the most “normally.” She’s a balance between expressing emotions and being stoic. (Parents divorced btw.) My brother and I don’t talk about it. We just deal in our own way – privately.
What bonds our grief and at the same time, is the biggest rift between it is our guilt. I wish I could say that my sister had an amazing, wonderful life. She did not. She was sick. The list of health issues she had is never-ending…as is our guilt. We all failed her. We weren’t understanding enough when we should have been, weren’t there for her when we should have been, weren’t appreciative of the time we had together when we should have been… We weren’t horrible, either, by any means…and many times, we thought we were doing all of these things…but if we truly had been, I don’t think we would be so full of regret now. We knew her time may be limited and, yet, this didn’t affect our actions like I wish it would have.
And, she failed us, too. She couldn’t accept that she would never have a “normal” life. Or, couldn’t accept that she would have to work and fight for a healthy body. She was so pissed that she didn’t always try, didn’t always follow the doctors’ orders. She made her situation more difficult for herself and for us. To the point where we sometimes “gave up,” because it was so hard to watch someone self-destruct. These were the times that we would forget about the disease and the many times where she had actually tried. Only to have the disease come back and knock her on her ass – to remind her that no matter how much effort she put in, it could come back at any moment to wreak havoc on her body, her mind, her soul.
So, each of us – sister, brother, mother, father – is trying to navigate our guilt. We’re trying to look at where we failed, remind ourselves of the times that we did our best, and remember that my sister was a very difficult young lady. There is a reason that I fondly called her “Brat.”
It may seem a little twisted – trying to put blame on the dead. But, in some cases, that’s where it belongs, too. Nobody is perfect. We all failed each other here. It’s going to take some time to really clean up this mess of emotions that we’re each going through. I’m hoping that some day, the positive memories with my sister become more vivid, more vibrant, more clear…instead of these gaping holes where positive memories should be. I’m not there yet, though.