These days, we really seem to underestimate the value of family. We are a broken nation, so content to flee rather than to hang on and fight. No more kissing and making up. It’s easy to stay mad. We feel justified in our anger. We’ve lost the value of longevity in our relationships. I can’t say I’ve represented picture-perfect relationships in my life, although I’m certainly blessed to finally have found the love of my life. I’m just saying, even in the best of times, it takes work.
We lost our mother way too early. It was life-changing for all of us. We struggled to maintain our balance when our world was being flipped upside down. Slowly, over the years, we drifted back together after realizing we didn’t have the same substance apart as we did together. Relationships had failed, succeeded, ebbed and flowed. But the current of family still ran deep below the surface. Then we lost Dad. Another devastating blow. This time as adults with children of our own, we had to be strong for them. And still we drifted. Then we lost our step-mom, who we all loved with everything in us and she loved us all in return. It felt as if no one was left. We had lost all our anchors.
Floating….floating….nothing to anchor us…..each adrift among success or failure, happiness or sadness. Each adrift in life….and still the current of family ran deep.
One summer, three sisters decided to leave family behind. We trekked to the mountains of Georgia just to remember what it was like to be sisters. It wasn’t easy at first. We had different memories. We had different triggers. We got angry with each other as we tried so hard to understand. We worked jig-saw puzzles often times in silence….it didn’t hit me until months later how symbolic it was that we were putting the pieces of our lives back together…piece by piece, twisting and turning – trying to make sense of it all and trying to find where each little piece fit into the whole.
Then came the macaroni salad – the kind we grew up with. We each did our part, cooking, chopping mixing…..little pieces again making up the whole. For the rest of the week, this magical symbolic salad nurtured and fed us. And we started to laugh. We played games. We challenged each other. We stayed up late and didn’t shower. We just hung out as only sisters can.
I think we all learned how much we loved each other. Not that we forgot really, just that we were each leading independent and valuable lives – separate from the whole. But sometimes you just need to be with people who have always been there. People that have known you from day one. People that love you even when you don’t shower. I’d love to tell you more, but we made a pact – WHAT HAPPENS AT THE CABIN, STAYS AT THE CABIN.
In the midst of the trips to the mountains, both my sisters were diagnosed with cancer. One sister had a kidney removed. I was terrified for her and for me. Then my other sister was diagnosed with cancer that she, too, seemed to overcome. Last fall she was diagnosed with lung cancer and she’s fighting a very difficult battle. Again I find myself terrified for her and for me. But I refuse to give up. Prayer. Love. My sisters are a huge part of me. What I’ve learned through this process is that when you come from the kind of stock that we did, you never really fully lose that connection. We may argue with each other and get frustrated, but you see, YOU don’t have the right to say ANYTHING disparaging about my sisters. They belong to ME. They are the links that make me whole. Without them I would not feel the deep down honest to God love for anyone the way I do. They taught me so much. They still do. They are part of me. They are the parts that have always been.
If you have been as fortunate, stop tonight and reconnect. Don’t let old hurts and disappointments take away what connects us to our very essence. Make a call. Give a hug. Write a note. Then thank God that you were blessed with the miracle of sisters.
And if you are doubly blessed by having a brother, remember that he may have been taught not to be soft. Not to be nurturing. Find the pieces and fit them back together. We all need each other…sister or brother. Mother or father. We don’t come into this world alone….and if you look closely, someone ‘has always been’.
If you weren’t as fortunate, I give you my heart, because you deserved to be loved, too, as much as I am.
To my sisters and my brother – I love you to the moon and back again. Now and always – you will always be a part of me.