So, since writing about my sister, she and I have spoken and/or emailed every single day since.
Today we talked about... well, surface talked about... how peripheral our relationship has been as siblings and how that really has been pretty sad. She told me she hated going to family dinners or anything because I acted like I didn't even want to sit by her - and she often felt like she should just die because she was a piece of shit in the family. She said the only thing that keeps her alive is her children. I sent a silent prayer aloft that the goddess gave her children even if she is struggling with being a good mother with them. (See me crying?)
I feel so horrible, so guilty. These last couple of weeks, I have spent time with her, trying to help her feel not so stupid or ugly or useless (and, oh, it is a huge challenge because of her programs) - where have I been all these years? Now I feel obligated... no, wrong word... challenged... implored by my heart to undo all that I am responsible for in that pained heart of my sister's. I doubt I can fix the whole heart, but I want to do my own part at least.
I talked to my partner about bringing my sister and my younger niece to come to live with us so I can help her get the surgeries she needs, get off the Fentanyl she's addicted to (my sister's already asked for help with that) and find a way to help her become independent and she didn't hesitate to say yes about bringing her here to live. I was shocked (happily so!) and called my sister the next day and made her cry.
When my sister had her horrible motorcycle accident, she had to live with friends because no one in our family took her in as she recovered. I had a young family and I can't answer for why my parents didn't. It has stabbed my sister's heart that all this time she has had to struggle pretty much alone. She was stunned that I would offer to bring her and her daughter into our small home even after our difficult past relationship.
The past couple of weeks have been a time of my listening mostly... she telling me her pains and how she spends time watching the world go by outside her window and how she watches black & white movies on the television. She speaks of how her youngest daughter hasn't ever had her own room, how she sleeps on the couch, doesn't have a closet, how she rarely brings friends over, how she is a wonderful A & B student. She tells me of the challenges of raising two girls as a single disabled mom with one daughter who is physically abusive and how she doesn't know what to do when she can't fight back. She understands why I won't invite that niece to come live with me. I love her, but will not have her in my home. The healing is for my sister right now, not focused on my niece.
I told my sister that when she told me she had Hepatitis C, I had a hard slap in the face of what my life would be like without her, the only person who knew me as a child besides my mother and brother. Even my father didn't know me as a kid. I've told her I love her in every email and every phone call. I need her in my life. Even when it is hard and hurts. (And I am sure it will be and will.)
I am going home in a week because a lot is going on... my step-mother is dying and my sister needs to see me... feel me hug her to believe I do care about her, that I will sit with her at dinner and talk to her and not ignore her. I am going home to take photographs of death and illness. Of oxygen and wheelchairs and last breaths and pain and sadness and rememberances and tears and laughing memories and facing death and capturing wisps of life as they fade into the evening light.
I will come home 10 days later a different woman. I will share with you my photos along the journey while there and afterwards. Please be patient if I am not able to process/write for a few days... I am digesting and trying. It just might take some time and tears.
Again, I know this isn't directly midwifery, but, as someone pointed out, in a way, it is. I am midwifing my sister... and now, my step-mother.
Let me write a separate post about her.
Thanks for listening.