Today I got the news that one of my sisters …
the one I wrote about in Realizations from My Birthday, has had a stroke. And my first reaction was fear – that I would lose her and I know that I’m not ready to have her not be in my life in any way at all. I know that strokes are no longer the pretty much immediate death sentence that they were when I was a child. And yet, I was afraid of losing her. And then I was sad for her – that her life would become even more proscribed than it had been before the stroke. And I remember something my other sister had asked me last week. She wondered if I thought that our middle sister had decided to die. Maybe this stroke had something to do with that. And then my fear and sadness turned to anger at my brother-in-law who had not let me or my other sister know what was happening. Hell, he waited until a few days after this event to let one of his daughters, who is out of the country, know.
I cannot understand his reasoning for that choice. And I wonder if my sister has chosen to die. And there’s nothing I can do but accept.
When I was a child, I learned very well to accept things …
What I could wear, what I could eat, what school I was going to go to, what I could do with my free time, what I was expected to do at home to help with the smooth running of it all, how I was expected to behave at home and when I was out in the world, that I had to wait my turn, that I had to ask for permission, what was an appropriate career for me to follow, how I was expected to be as a female in my culture. So many things I learned to accept without outward objections. Oh, I had many reservations and questions about all of the things I was expected to accept. And I found out very quickly that to voice my questions was a sure path to rejection and anger from my father. And I learned that my mother would not intervene for me because she had had accepting literally beaten into her when she was a child.
One of the things I know to be true for me and about me is that I feel called to help and support others and to help them realize the fullness of who they innately are.
That’s one of the reasons that I chose the career I did and why I choose to volunteer now that I’ve retired from teaching. And, for me, it’s been about seeing a need and stepping in to help provide that.
I know that I have to accept that there is nothing I can do to take this turn of events from my sister. There is nothing I can to do make it all better. And I can only be involved in her life to the extent that she chooses to let me. I have to accept that I do not have agency. I cannot step in without permission.
And as I write this, I know that this is the hardest lesson I have to learn. And it’s not easy.
While I find myself tearing up when I think of my sister, I know that what I’m really crying about is my sense of helplessness. I’m crying because I know that I must accept that.
Maybe learning to accept our very real limitations …
Those limitations that come from inside of our true self and which do not come from any outside authority – is one of the hardest lessons for each of us.