A death in the family; what’s left of it

Aug. 3, 2008

Loss a motif . . . I found out yesterday that my sister Diana died. Equally heartbreaking—we were estranged and had not spoken for over ten years. My nephew’s wife called because my other sister doesn’t talk to me either. Sheesh. What a family. I have felt so bad about it for so long but dysfunctionality is not uncommon. Most days I feel relieved I’m not subjected to the distress and bull crap we so capably subjected each other to. Small consolation. The normal, happy family is the rarity. Estrangement is relatively easy to ignore day to day but painfully evident at a time like this or the holidays when people come together to celebrate. Oh, that’s what the gorging and drinking was all about. No one told me. It’s a sad situation and I know it hurts my nephews. Still, it’s better than the afore mentioned bullshit. There are no easy answers, solutions often, in life. I have suggested a few, over the years, and extended the olive branch, more than once. It was still blowing in the wind last time I checked.

So here I sit, reeling, grappling with emotions, ambivalence. It is unreal. I don’t know how to feel. I feel numb. I lost her ten years ago. She is to be cremated and there will be a gathering in her honour. It looks like I’m not invited though I’ve heard “it’s alright for me to call.” I spoke with my nephew this morning, who after four days is still broken up, crying. It was unexpected. Apparently, Diana was having a routine operation, another one of many, when “she got sick,” he said. I asked if she had contracted an infection for hospitals can be dangerous places and some have very high infection rates, one reason I had my baby at home. Hospitals are for sick people. Whenever I enter one, I fear I will never come out. He, like others, described her boyfriend Lionel as an asshole, but “she loved him.” So why did she always pick assholes? The most unlikely candidates for her love? Was it some Florence Nightingale complex I can see in one of my nieces and other women? Do they think they can fix them?

My sisters and I went through hell together, survived a kind of madness, which naturally creates a bond, though Diana started drifting away in high school, through boyfriends. In essence that was the first time I lost her. She was a pixie—petite, vivacious, with big, beautiful sky blue eyes—and popular. She always had a boyfriend. While I flitted from one boy to another, she would become immersed in an all-encompassing relationship though she only married once. First there was Bob, very insecure and controlling. Bob, we barely knew ye. “He’s shy,” she explained. He would pick her up in his Toyota after school and we wouldn’t see her until midnight. She spent every weekend with him. I don’t remember why they broke up. Then there was Rob, who was a least outgoing, albeit a drug fiend and a thief. They met at Bootlegger jeans. She worked in retail all through high school, with that personality was a natural. Their house was full of fenced goods. Apparently he was a womanizer. Maybe their breakup was due to the philandering. I don’t know. She never told me anything. We didn’t have typical girl conversations. She only revealed herself to these losers. Then there was Guy, the fat, bigoted, white trash toad. He was amusing, a generous soul, and I actually got to know him and like him. This was the one she chose to marry. They owned a small farm in Langley, then one in Aldergrove, Diane growing blueberries and keeping chickens, ducks, geese and horses. Finally, before the marriage was officially over, she started an affair with the mysterious Lionel, a tenant in their house. They moved to the Okanogan together where I visited her in Peachland with my son when he was about four. If Lionel was around, I was not introduced. I did not know it but this was the last time I would see her. The phantom Lionel sounds nothing like the benign Lionel from Peanuts. This Lionel decreed he didn’t like me, despite never having met me. I have heard he is a drunk, a control-freak asshole which would explain why Diane wouldn’t speak to me. I honestly believe she wasn’t allowed to, and of course, that’s no excuse but is an example of her innate submissiveness to men.

Count ‘em on one hand. Her lovers. The idea of counting mine is mind-boggling. We were so different, as divergent as sisters must be, though I found one reason for it, eventually. We had different fathers. I will open that can of worms a bit later. I am hoping to have a little solitude next week, which I can devote to writing and remembering the precious little sister I lost so long ago.

0 thoughts on “A death in the family; what’s left of it

  1. the passing of a sibling is always hard and especially difficult to come to terms with when estranged. i lost my elder brother 2 years ago. he was a bully and is behaviour toward me continued even into adulthood, when i chose not to accept it, which meant we did not see each other often. his wife did not ‘invite’ me to his service and so i have have to find other ways to find closure. not complete yet but coming to terms with it. blessing to you on your journey. love does conquer all. i see love in your journal, and that will help you heal

  2. Thinking of your olive branch, blowing in the wind, I remembered Jane Siberry singing Joe J’s song below.

    Artist: Joe Jackson lyrics
    Album: Heaven & Hell
    Year: 1997

    Title: The Bridge

    Down there in the ashes
    There’s gold and silver too
    Dear sister, I try to share with you

    Smug, you said
    Take your spoils away

    And you broke the bridge on your side

    You wither my trouble
    And all I dream to do
    With half-smiles
    Until I scream at you

    Mad, you said
    That’s how you repay

    But you broke the bridge on your side

    And where am I
    As I swallow your tears
    And the prince with the slipper appears
    Do you hack at your heel
    Do I try not to feel

    I fail with my anger
    And with my sympathy
    I tremble – so little left for me

    Harsh, you said
    Now you walk away

    But I left the gold for you to find

    When you broke the bridge on your side

  3. heather,

    i came for videopoems and found this sad news. i’ve lost my son and close friend recently. i was estranged from my mother when she died by her own hand. when my dad and sister showed up (unnannouced from florida to california) after my son died i hadn’t spoken to my father in 6 years and hadn’t seen my sister for 16.

    u would think estrangement could be some kind of buffer to the grief but it just creates what is called “complicated grieving.”

    i will look at your art next because if anything will get you through this it would be art.

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