Well, I think it’s about that time again—that time when the wannabe writer steps away from fiction and says something personal. Not that all writing isn’t personal or true or real. Yes, yes—I know it is, calm yourself. But, there are moments when you write too honestly. When you don’t let yourself hide behind fiction because the words hit too close to home. I’ve been too honest twice on my blog so far in regards to my [relationship? with] my estranged father. See here and here to get some background. And now, just as confused as ever, I’m doing it again. Catharsis. Coping. Looking for answers in the blank spaces of a Word document. Etc. Thanks to all who have commented on past posts with advice and commiseration It’s meant the world. Really.
But I don’t want to write him another letter. We’ve been emailing and he’s been nice enough about it all. I’m done pouring my heart out to him. He wants to be in my life—fine. Welcome to the party. It’s a pretty normal situation. Enjoy.
No, I don’t want to write him any more letters. I got it out of my system and I’m already bored with the results. Today, I write the first of two letters. One for each sister I haven’t seen in 10 years because of circumstances none of us understood or could control. Today, I write a letter to my sister, out there in the universe somewhere, whom we will call Lilly.
Let me begin by saying what I’ve wanted to say for ten very long years: I love you. I have always loved you. I will always love you. I remember you. I remember being your sister, and although you were very young, I will always remember being your sister.
But the only thing I can do is remember. I don’t know you. All I know is my memories of a smiley, vivacious little girl that danced around and laughed with her head thrown back. So, maybe I only love the memory of you. But believe me when I say that I love that memory. And that love is strong enough for me to want to know the woman you’ve become.
It’s possible you blame me for not being in your life. I could justify everything—tell you the story as I know it. But maybe the version I know isn’t right. It was complicated. Everyone made mistakes. I don’t want to put blame on anyone. I’ve grown up looking at everyone in my life with mistrust and I don’t want you to do that. They aren’t bad people. Some of them made mistakes, but your father and mother love you and are good to you. I don’t want you to think that what happened with me has any bearing on their relationship with you. I want you to love them. I didn’t get a relationship with our father for a lot of reasons, but I want you to have what I didn’t. All I will say is that I was twelve years old and I didn’t want to lose you. Not having you in my life has been the most difficult part of the last ten years.
But now, you are 16. Our father has contacted me, attempting to rebuild a relationship. I have accepted this proposal with some reservation. I’ve always said I would do anything to see you again, the innocent in this whole fuckup of a situation. But my feelings toward him have made me think about your feelings. I always assumed our reunion someday off in a sunrise of the future would be heartfelt and tearful and happy—we’d embrace with joy and lament the way life fucked us over. But maybe it can’t be that way. Maybe that vision was a dream I held onto to cope with the loss. It’s been ten years. That’s a damn long time. Maybe the possibility of that dream coming true has decreased with every year as we each grew older, apart.
The same obstacle that discourages me from feeling a strong residual connection to my father will factor into any possible relationship I build with you now: 10 years. Enough years for you, a 6 years old girl in my memories, to grow up and become a whole person with a whole world that I know nothing about. You have boyfriends, tv shows, ambitions, quirks that I’ve missed developing. And no, that doesn’t mean we can never be close. But the truth is that I wasn’t there for the informative years. I’ll never really be a sister, in so far as that one of the most defining aspects of a sister is a shared childhood. And while we have the first 6 years of your life, and we have pictures of me holding you as an infant, smiling in the hospital—we don’t have 10 big years. And that’s scary. In the same way I’m sure my father is terrified when he thinks about me.
I’ve clung to the idea that you were this innocent, hurt by the pettiness of those around you. But, I have to face the fact that I was twelve and you were six. I was old enough for it to change my entire life and maybe—just maybe—you were young enough to forget I ever existed. I’m torn here. I truly hope you don’t remember crying every time I left you. I hope you don’t remember crying the last time we spoke, because you hadn’t seen your sissy in so long. I hope it didn’t hurt you as much as it hurt me, because it really hurt me. But at the same time, I hope to god you do remember. I may be a terrible person for it, but I want you to love the memory of me even a fraction of the amount I love the memory of you.
I’m terrified to see you again. I’m not afraid you’ll be angry—I know I’ll convince you that I did all I could to be in your life. I’m not afraid you’ll be upset—I’ll be an emotional wreck myself. I’m afraid you’re going to look at me the same way I look at our father—uninterested. That terrifies me. That’s the scenario I never imagined, even in my worst nightmares. It just may well hurt more than losing you and dad and our other sister, and your mother, and our whole shared family and life ten long years ago. It just may well kill me.
So, we’re at a crossroad. I want to be in your life, but I don’t know what your life is. I want to love you, to be able to say it and mean it, but I don’t know you anymore. I want for you to feel something toward me. You are 16 and the world still has so much for you. I want above all for you to have a great life. A life that isn’t touched by all this bullshit like mine has been. Maybe I’m only martyring myself because I’m afraid. The real reason I won’t send you this letter is because I’m afraid you won’t answer it.
Please write to me if you’re out there, still loving the memory of me.