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Yes, I miss my sister, but there’s no help for that. Once she flew in from the west coast, attended a family event for our father, then flew back to her home, and afterward I barely recalled she’d been present. She HAD been there, she’d served herself from the buffet line right next to me, and we’d wandered the polo field together replacing the divets with our mother and brothers just like everyone else there that day. People had asked us about our absent and dying sister and we’d answered together.

But it was all a little flat. It left me cold to hear her say again, as she had in the past, that I didn’t matter to her. Through her words and actions over the years she has made it quite clear she does not want to have a relationship. I don’t blame her. It seems our mother inadvertently fostered a mistrust among her children. So for the first time I did not anticipate her visit with relish, or delight in her presence while she was here. It felt safer. It felt as if I was protecting my heart from hurt. And then a weird thing happened. Afterward I barely recalled her even being there. Seeing her present in the pictures surprised me. Our shared experience meant something very different to each of us. Or maybe finally, it meant the same thing to us both.

It could have gone much differently. We could have been thrilled at the prospect of a reunion after years apart, then actively enjoyed every moment together, then reflected back on the joy it had been. But we did not. I used to try to create that, unsatisfactorily I’ll say, but then I realized it was quite one-sided, and that she was actively denying me.

So what I learned is that you can ‘connect’ with people all you want, but it really is a two-way street.