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Dear Sis – This Is My Closure

Posted on 14-11-2013

Dear Sis,

At this very moment I’m sitting in church, surrounded by strangers. Your husband kindly arranged for an anniversary service for you, because let’s face it, the man will do pretty much what he wants to. I’m sitting here listening to the priest talk about how death is never the end, how there’s a hopeful and wonderful Kingdom in the afterlife. Your family is sitting in the first row, while we’re sitting a few pews behind. I know mum and dad would rather not be here. They’d rather not have to go through people walking up and trying to tell them how life gets better as you go on. They’d rather just say a quiet prayer for you at your grave and call it a day. But instead we all showed up here, we all stopped what we were doing to attend this service in your name.

Because that’s what families do.

When you passed away I wondered when the moment would come that I would break down and cry. I thought it would be when mum first called me that night. I thought it would be when I went into your room to say my goodbyes. I thought it would be when I saw you being lowered into the ground. But the tears never came and I felt an immense guilt over that. You were supposed to cry, to mourn, to be inconsolable, to show the world how much you were hurting. But in silence I mourned your loss and we comforted each other through something none of us really knew how to cope with.

Because that’s what families do.

For so many, many years after you got married, we paid the price for your decisions. We couldn’t understand how or why you would use each and every one of us to finally get what you wanted. Your wedding day was the first time after years that I had seen you again, and there were so many things I wanted to say but couldn’t find the right words to describe. We sat at your wedding reception with people coming up to congratulate us, not knowing how much it broke us to be there. But through it all, we smiled and posed for photos, and accepted everyone’s well wishes.

Because that’s what families do.

Years later you would bear a daughter, and we put aside our differences to welcome a new soul into the world. Mum and dad never forgot or forgave you for what you did, but for the sake of their only grandchild at the time they were able to look past everything, even if it was briefly. I never did like kids to begin with, but in time I learned to have a little bit of fun with your daughter, and she enjoyed seeing us. You were then blessed with a son, and it was only in his second year that you came to me and said to keep my distance from your children. I never quite understood why at the time, but as weeks and months rolled by and I saw less and less of your kids, I knew that you were serious. Of course we would all come to visit as a family every so often, and everything seemed so simple and perfect for a few precious moments. But you would rarely bring the children over to our house, keeping them in the living room if I was home at the time. There are parts of me that still don’t quite understand why you wanted to distance your kids from me, but I silently accepted your decision and let you have your way.

Because that’s what families do.

It’s now been ten months since I’ve spoken to or even heard from your kids. As they sit a few rows in front of us, none of us really know what’s going on with them or if they need anything. Mum and dad are still so hurt and angry that they can’t even talk about you without starting to cry or choke up. Their anger is unrelentless and I do not know what I can do to help them. I fear that they will always have this hatred and anger deep inside them, bottled down within them until they can no longer hold it inside. And while at times I do miss your kids and wonder how they are, I cannot spend my life trying to tiptoe through the landmine that is our family. I cannot and will not subject myself to that all over again, because frankly if I’ve learned anything from all this, it’s that life is too short to go around pleasing everyone all the time. You were a champion of trying to please people, always being front and center as this shimmering beacon of the community. You loved everyone so much, yet you would tell our mother that one day one of her sons would confess something that would break her heart. I’ve always loved you sis, even through everything that you put our family through for so many years. There are so many people who know you, but there are so few people who¬†know you. And those few people are your family members, who you’ve left behind with so many questions unanswered. But in the end, we mourn, we cry, we grieve, we love, we live, we heal, and we withstand.

Because that’s what families do.

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