I’ve been neglecting my writing again. I thought I would stay on track this time, but the simple truth is that I’ve got a lot on my mind and it’s like an emotional stew inside of my head. My brother’s wife passed away several days ago and it’s brought up a lot of memories and conflicting ideas. She and I haven’t been close since I was a child. And I haven’t seen her in several years when my mother was in very poor health. Truth is, my mom and she never really got along all that well and it painted how I saw her. That’s really not fair, but I always felt like my mother’s advocate, her last, best defense and as so, I stood by her side whenever anyone made her upset or angry. So, of course, my sister-in-law was no different.
My brother is 22 years older than me so he and his wife were dating since before I was even born. They married when I was just a toddler and I have never known a world without my sister-in-law, Kerry. Kerry was a vibrant personality, strong and full of humor. My most colorful memories of her are of when I was just a kid and she and I would joke and make fun of my brother. He was a talented musician and my mom, ever the typical Italian mother of a favored son, would beam at him as he would play his latest song on the piano or guitar. And Kerry and I would share in commenting on how he ate up her love and attention. I was more than jealous of what was going on so I loved the fact that someone else saw it so we bonded deeply over it and I felt that she and I were very good friends.
But at some point there were troubles between my mom and the two of them. I was not around at the time of the disagreement and I only heard my mother’s point of view of the situation, but I didn’t have any reason to doubt her. She was my mother and I saw her, crying with a broken heart at the hands of my brother and his wife, so naturally I hated them both. I was, after all, a child at the time who was very close to my mom and she was incredibly talented at telling a compelling story.
A couple of years went by and they all made up. But I wasn’t easy to forgive them. I had spent those years alone with her, seeing her upset and feeling abandoned by them. I was the only one with her, the two of us living alone and depending on one another. We were perhaps too close and at the time, her dramatics left an impression on me that made me feel as though my brother and sister-in-law were never going to be a part of our lives again. So when my mother told me to forgive and forget, my teenaged mind could not compute the information. I was still angry and felt that her desire to be reunited with them was clouding her judgement. And I supposed, to an extent, I didn’t want to have to share my mother with her son again because that would mean I was going to get demoted again. Because such is the case with an Italian mother, a daughter just doesn’t compare no matter how loyal or attentive.
And, to be honest, my mother fully forgave my brother but she never sincerely forgave Kerry. I lived with her for years still speaking as if Kerry were some sort of villain. And my mother wasn’t the only one. Everyone in my family had their comments and I was a rather self-righteous type who felt that if you were going to speak one way when someone was not around, you shouldn’t be all lovely dovey when they were around. So I spoke my mind all too often getting me into fights with my mother and many other people in my family. And it also led me to never really getting along with Kerry ever again. Even though, to be sincere, I probably liked her more so than the others. I just didn’t hide the little bit that I did disagree with her. My honest slight disagreements with her were magnified because everyone else would single me out and act like I was some kind of asshole for saying anything when in private they were saying so much worse. This made me pull away from my family altogether and stop from going to family functions. I missed out on so much, but when you feel like you’re not accepted for being yourself, you really don’t feel like you have much of a choice.
But, all of this aside, Kerry was a good person. I know this. I always knew this. She came on strong and she didn’t pull any punches, but she did good things for people and she helped anyone in need. And I am sad that she is gone because the people who were able to have her in their lives are missing a gem of a human being, especially my brother and my three nephews. They are all grown men, but you never stop needing your mother, that is a lesson I know all too well. I feel as though I have had a lot of good people in my life so I am ok with not have had more time with her, but my brother wrapped his entire life around his wife. That was a decision he made early on when he first fell in love with her. And he never faltered on that decision. And after 40+ years of dedicated his life to her, he will be spending the remaining years of his life with her gone, because no matter what your faith is or how you want to spin your romantic, spiritual notions about “meeting up on the other side” or “I feel her with me” there is a vast difference between someone being alive and someone being dead and there is just no way to reconcile that loss. He will notice it and it will leave him hurting.
I have two brothers and a sister. We all share a mother, but they all share a father, I am their half-sister. None of them know what it’s like to lose both of your parents. And up until now, none of them knew what it was like to lose a partner. I never wished it on them, although I did wish that they gave me some credit for baring something that they did not have to suffer. Now my sweet, eldest brother knows what I have known as far as losing a partner and he will begin to understand that sense of confusion when he goes to look for her in every detail of his life and she is simply not there. It’s heart breaking and it redefines you as a person. I am so very sad for him. I only hope that we can reconnect without anger or blame and if he needs me for anything, he learns that I am there. Because I know that I am there for him.
I know that as you lose the people you build your foundation upon it is necessary to rebuild. May be both become part of each other’s foundation. That is my wish for me, for him, for my mom and for Kerry.