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It must be the time of year, smack dab between Mother's Day and Father's Day, that has me thinking about my family, the people I grew up with and the people who raised me.
Both my parents are dead. We buried our mother in 1999, after she died of metastatic colon cancer at the age of 61. Our dad passed away in 2004, a few days short of his 71st birthday. But truth be told, he left a long time before that due to Alzheimer's disease.
That leaves my three younger siblings, who are sort of like dandelion seeds blown away by the wind.
The truth is I should just let them go. Each, in their own time and in their own way, have come to the conclusion that they need to live their adult lives without any contact with their siblings. I struggle to understand their reasons, of which I can only make educated guesses, which ultimately leaves me with more questions than answers.
If I am really honest, I probably could have predicted this outcome based on my cancer experience. For example, when my three siblings were tested to see if they could be a bone marrow donor for me, one said that they would have to consider whether to give their bone marrow to me if they were a match. No one matched, eliminating this dilemma. Another sibling made fun of me when I started wearing a wig to cover my baldness. There were rumblings in the family that the reason I got cancer was because I was "burning the candle at both ends" and because I was partying in the dorms at college. Only one sibling came to visit me in the hospital on a regular basis, accompanying our dad; the other two were MIA. Instead of bringing us together as a family, my cancer diagnosis tore us further apart.
I know what they said and what they did back then really had very little to do with me and everything to do with them. Sure, it hurt me. But I can excuse their behavior and overlook their comments because they were young and ill-prepared to handle their older sister's life threatening illness.
But as the years have passed, I've kept hoping that they would overcome the baggage of our collective past and make amends so we could move on together.
I know that people who cutoff from their parents, siblings and other family members due so because of their own unresolved emotional issues. Unfortunately, avoiding their family of origin doesn't make those issues go away. In fact, they are very likely to let those issues play out in their marriages, families and friendships, in essence creating situations where those scenarios play out again ... and again ... and again.
This only intensifies my sadness, as I am here waiting to resolve those issues with them when they are able to do so in a mature, honest and forthright manner.
The last time the four of us where in the same place was at our father's funeral. We were all there at the cemetery, watching as they interred our father into the wall of the mausoleum. I often wonder if this was the very last time we would all be together. In which case, the irony has not escaped me--a cemetery would be the perfect setting for our last rendezvous, especially since they have all decided that they are dead to me.