I thought I would take on simple little project today. I would hand write letters to some folks I haven't heard from in ages. The first person on my list, Liz, is a piece of cake. No matter how long we are apart, it's like we saw each other last week. I think we have a cosmic connection. Despite our totally different personalities and totally different approach to life, we connect on a spiritual level that has sustained us for nearly 10 years. We are like family.
Second on my list, Sabrina. This would be a bit more difficult because I hardly know her or her family and we haven't spoken in nearly seven years. She sent me a card with a picture of her family and I thought I should say hello, if only to be "polite."
As I was looking at her family picture, a co-worker asked me "who's that?"
"You have a sister?"
"Yeah, I do. We don't really know each other."
Another co-worker, walking up the stairs, said incredulously, "You have a sister? You've never mentioned her."
As I stare at the stranger in the picture, I realized several things. I have been getting cards and pictures from her for years and this is the first time I ever really looked at the people in the envelope. It was also the first time I realized that I had a niece. A beautiful, adorable niece that might want know me.
My mom married Tim in the early 80's and soon came Sabrina. I was about nine when she came into this world. We looked nothing alike; she with light hair and fair skin, la guera, and I, the very chubby brownish kid with dark hair. We were years apart and it wasn't long before abuse followed by divorce decided how much of each other we would get to know. She moved away with her dad and I stayed with my mom and we both went on to live different and separate lives. Sure, there was the occasional visit but it was strained at best. There was so much drama on both sides of our lives, we were young and estranged, how could we find a safe place to connect?
After my divorce, I got busy being a mom and working and schooling that I didn't really give her a second thought, except on the 30th of June each year. Sure, I would have liked our relationship to be more but I didn't make the effort. Presumably, because I was a single mom or because we didn't know each other, or because she's married and has her own family, or because she lives in another state....because...so many reasons and looking back, not one of them is good enough.
All my life, I have wanted to belong to a family. I desperately wanted to fit into my mom's family and that never happened. I had wonderful aunts and a grandma to step in and care for me but they had their own children and lives to live.
I am now 33 years old. I am a mother to a 13 year old girl. After years abuse, and the ensuing drama, I am happily married to the greatest man I have ever known. I have a nice home, in a nice neighborhood. I have--a happy family, a good life. And now I have time?
It's such a shame that a casual question by a work associate has reminded me that I had family all along. I had a sister. What a wonderful gift. I had someone that I could have shared my life with and yet, I was too busy?
My god, the regret and shame I feel at this moment. I belong to a church that values family second to God and I am just now getting that? All those years I longed for something I already had. I could have been there for the birth of her daughter. Her wedding. I could have shared those really great moments in her life. I could have been there for the really bad ones.
My sister is now 24. I'm told she is happily married and a mother to a daughter who's name escapes me at this very moment.
Is it too late to become her older sister? To get to know her and connect?
Is it too late to become family?