Thursday, August 2, 2007


Not everyone knows that I have a sister living in Las Vegas who is 13 years younger than I am, and who has lived the last 20 years of her life with Huntington's Disease. It's a horrible, debilitating, neurological disease that has no cure, no treatment. I got a phone call yesterday that my sister was probably going to die within the week. I've had a lot to process today.

My reaction to the first call from her ex-husband was denial. I told him I didn't need to see her. Something about the way he presented the situation seemed to minimize it in my mind. I was asleep when he called, which I blame on part of it; he talked about the other times she'd been on hospice and he didn't know if this time was different; he didn't make it seem urgent. I knew I was at peace with my relationship with her. I had talked to her just last week. The next day I talked to my niece who lives there with her (with full-time caregivers) and she gave me the specifics. She made it seem urgent. She made it seem real. There was no decision but to go. Today I have been flooded with memories, with regrets, with sorrow, with love.

It's gets more complicated. My sister gave a child up for adoption 23 years ago. Her request now, before she dies, is to see that child. Her nurse thinks it's why she's hanging on.

It's eerie that the reason I called my sister last week was that the daughter she gave up had contacted me and wanted to meet her. It's almost as if she knew it was time. She's now making plans to go to Las Vegas.

There's something about a mother and her offspring. I read something this morning that is so poignant to this day: "A mother never outgrows the burden of love, and to the end she carries the weight of hope for those she bore." And this, "for she is impelled to know that the seeds of value sown in her have been winnowed."

So, this weekend, I'm hoping a young woman will meet her birth mother, albeit on her death bed. May they both find peace. She will also meet a family she has never known. And the children who have cared for their mother all these years will meet a sister they only recently found out about.

I tend to keep my feelings in an inner room, sometimes I shove them in there and keep the door closed. Today, I've had to open the door and let them out. There are too many to contain.


Teresa J. Wilber said...

Oh, Connie, sometimes those feelings are meant to come out to be shared, so that some of us can come out of own selves for a moment, to help and console and feel like we have a chance to listen and make a difference to others. I hope that you always feel comfortable in sharing what you're feeling, whether it be on a blog or with a phone call. I have two sisters, and find that, no matter what, sisters are a part of our identity. Her history is our history as well. Please call if I can help or just listen. I wish you strength and wisdom is this learning-time.

Sarah said...

I am so proud and honored to be able to read your raw emotions and thoughts. I'm not sure what Carl would say about you but I think you're expressing your feelings pretty well. You have denied . . participated . . . and then stepped up when you were needed. Own that and the love that you have shared. It is a tremendous, life changing experience. Much love, xoxoxo

Connie said...

Thank you both for those comments. In some ways, you'd think by this age I'd have more of this figured out. In other ways, it's exciting to still be learning.

Jennifer said...

I am so glad you have opened the door. There is something extraordinary about the way you feel, and something so incredibly rich that happens when you share.