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The ‘international straw’ was explained to me by my nephew who is living in China. Instead of a can and a string there is a straw that goes under the ocean, he told me, thus aiding our phone calls. Today he literally sounded under water, so apparently a leak sprung, but sorry I was not. To get a call from my sister’s son, for Mother’s Day, underwater or not, considering his mother is gone and he’s thinking of me instead, is an honor I might not have had.

As sad as it is that Jackie is gone, many doors were opened by her illness and death. The last few years of her life I called her weekly, an unheard of idea for us, and laughed and made memories that wouldn’t otherwise have been made. She and I weren’t friends enough for that before, but I showed her and I showed myself that there are ways to make it work. And her sons wouldn’t be looking to me to fill a gap, probably, if she were still here. The relationships I am building with them are presents to me that feel golden given our colossal family dysfunction.

I smile to myself that I have figured out how to do this, how to make friends with them even as the relationships with my siblings hang on by barely a thread. It is hard to undo history, but building a new future I certainly plan to do.

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