I’m feeling a sense of desperation tonight.
There’s not enough time. I’ve wasted it. I’ve squandered it. I’ve let too much of it pass by.
A dear friend of mine says, “The time we have is the time we have.” I know what she means by it. We get what we get. We cannot make more of it, cannot buy it, cannot bargain our way into it.
But my sister is sick. She’s been in the ICU for fourteen days, unexpectedly and heartbreakingly. I am ten hours away, and her arms, Mom says, are bruised from the needle sticks.
There were so many years that I took her for granted. She was my Other Mother, my caregiver, my guardian. I was the whirling dervish who didn’t have time to slow down and be present with her. I was the jerky little sister who popped the heads off her Barbie dolls and created a masking tape division in our shared bedroom.
“This is your side, this is mine. Don’t cross the line.”
The doorway exit, too, was divided in half. We shimmied out sideways, Carrie and I, so as not to impinge upon each other’s domain.
Even as an adult — especially as an adult, because I should have known better — I continued to draw lines. She was six years older, had her kids sooner, blazed the trail before I did. But in my self-proclaimed wisdom, I had all the answers to life, to everything.
Here’s what I’ve finally learned. Right, wrong, this way, that way — none of it matters. What matters is Carrie. What matters is Mom. My family, our families. What matters is that we journeyed together, The Three Amigos. We made our way hand in hand, side by side.
And now, Chris, Sam, Gus, Mary Claire, George.
I look at my kids fighting now and I think… you’re gonna miss this. This forced intimacy of the six of us living together in tight quarters, you will miss it. Drop the “I hate yous” and the “Leave me alones” and the “Get out of my rooms” because someday you’ll wish you could say, “Come back to my room. Climb into bed with me and tell me about your day.”
It’s the natural progression of life. I understand it cerebrally. We all fight for our path, we all stake our claim on life. Eventually, most of us come to understand — at least those of us with families worth fighting for… and I most definitely have a family worth fighting for — what really matters.
Family. Love. Forgiveness. Friendship. Vulnerability. Wholeheartedness.
Yes, we hurt each other. Yes, we slice with our words and cut with our actions. Some wounds never heal; some, perhaps, never should. But this family of mine, this trio of female strength and tenacity. This. This. This is worth the battle.
My sister, with her bruised arms and her scarred belly and her kind and faithful husband by her side is 500 miles away. But she is in my heart, there, for all eternity.
There is not enough time to make up for what I’ve allowed to pass through my pointing, accusatory fingers. But there is enough love.
Wrapping you in all of it tonight, dear Carrie Ellen.
Come home soon.