Long-term familial estrangement is a fickle thing: some days, most days, you have accepted it and have moved on. But other days, rare days, when life throws something particular your way, you find yourself wishing the estrangement was void and you could speak to the very person you are estranged from. I recently experienced this in all it’s un-glory for the first time.
My sister Sharon and I have been estranged now for about 11 years. I long ago accepted where our relationship is, or rather isn’t. For the most part, I rarely think of her in typical day-to-day life. But this last week, that changed. Last week, I underwent a hysterectomy. The day of the surgery was rough, especially since I had a bad reaction to the anesthesia. Once home, although my hubby was wonderful in trying to help me, I found myself with so many questions about the way I was feeling and side effects of the surgery I was experiencing. And then, the moment came, the moment when I wished I could talk to my sister.
Sharon had a hysterectomy in her late 30’s due to ovarian prolapse. My mom and I had taken turns helping her with her 3 children as she recovered. And so, last week, I found myself wishing I could talk to her about her experience and asking questions about mine, a sisterly conversation that would have happened on day one had we not been estranged. It left me feeling a bit lonely.
That’s the thing about estrangement, no matter how well you are doing or how far you have come, there will still be moments when the longing for a relationship that once was surfaces. The problem is, that relationship that once was is no longer there and most likely would never be the same, so we are wishing for something that can never be. In reconciliation, the relationship would be different, perhaps for the lucky ones even better, but it would never be the same.
I got over the nostalgic feeling but it did cause me to ponder the ramifications of estrangement. I have so much more to write about that has happened the last couple years, but that will be for other posts to come. What I have learned though is that in order for reconciliation, all parties to the estrangement must work through and heal from their emotional wounds. If one person is ready but not the other(s), reconciliation is just a tiny seed of hope living somewhere deep inside the soul, a seed that may never get to grow.
I don’t miss my sister as much as I miss the sibling connection. Even now, after 11 years, my surgery brought about the very first inkling of wishing my sister and I were close again. I never thought I’d ever say it but time does actually heal; it’s just a matter of how much time. But healing doesn’t mean you never look back, it just means you can look back with understanding instead of pain.