Statistically, most people have a sibling of some kind, either a full blood, half, or both. Due to my fathers desire to breed a small gang, I have six siblings. Only one of them is full blood, while the rest are all half. At the present time, I only communicate with two of them due to various circumstances, but I also don’t mind this fact either. I am content with the amount of siblings I do communicate with, and quite frankly, I fear that talking with ones I have almost no connection with would result in wasted time.
That said, when my mother passed, my full blood sister was living a few towns over. My grandparents called her when my mother was showing the signs of passing and she tried her best to get down here from her job, almost an hour away, to say goodbye. She didn’t make it. I felt terrible upon seeing her, standing there in the doorway, frantically praying she made it in time to say goodbye. Upon hearing the news that she was too late, she began to sob relentlessly. Although she was crying along with everyone else, she was crying for a different reason than they were. She cried because she wasn’t there.
The night before, we had talked and I reassured her that our mother would pull through the week and possibly pass the following weekend. I told her it was fine to go home, and go to work the next day. In retrospect, I was the one that put her in a position to be unable to make it back before our mother passed. Obviously it was not done maliciously, and when I told her she would make it through the week, it was because I desperately hoped she would. Never the less, in the back of my mind, I always think about how awful it must feel to not get a chance to say goodbye, and how mad I am at myself for denying her that opportunity, simply because I spouted off idealistic nonsense to blind myself to the truth I’d rather not admit.
I have never discussed the situation with her before, and she hasn’t vocalized her feelings on the matter elsewhere, but I know that it hurts her. I know that regardless of how awful and painful it was to watch, she still wanted to be there, by her side, assuring her everything would be okay. It is truly unfair that of all the things to miss out on, the passing of your parent is one of them. Personally, I would be furious, depressed and empty. I would clutch my chest at the thought of the words I wanted to say before she passed, the things she might have said to me, or the sight of seeing her alive one last time.
I am truly sorry to have inadvertently denied her of that chance. And while I know she might not hold resentment towards me for it, I will always hold resentment towards myself for not being overly cautious. Regardless, after all was said and done, crying was out of the way, my sister asked to see our mother before the funeral home took her body away. Our HOSPICE nurse at the time was overly gracious enough to position her body in a way that made it look like she was merely sleeping. In some disgusting way, it looked beautiful yet also uncanny. Knowing she wasn’t breathing, yet lay there without a single hint of pain made my stomach turn.
As for my sister, she stood there for a moment; and while I had left the room shortly after walking in with her, I assume she spent the time saying her goodbyes, regardless of our mothers’ current state of life. I sat quietly in my mothers’ old chair, and waited for her to come back out. She came back with tears in her eyes and hugged everyone, myself included. Though I never stop asking myself “Was that enough?” Without further prodding, I might never know the answer to that question.
A few hours after everything calmed down, my half sister came over to show her support. While my mother wasn’t related by blood, she still felt upset about her passing. She had spent a few good years growing up around my mother every other weekend, and though I never knew until much later, my mother treated her like her own child. Although she is my half sister, I don’t treat her much different than I do my own sister. Granted she is older than I am, and I don’t recall any memories of growing up with her before I met her for what I believed was the first time, so there a slight difference in sibling bonds are understandable. Regardless, I was really glad she took the time to come down and see us all, making sure we were okay and joining into what our family has now adopted as ‘Complaining About Cancer’ conversations.
She mostly spent time with my grandfather, who at the time was practically wrapped in denial about the whole thing, understandably. After a few hours, she left, giving us all hugs and reassuring us if we needed anything to contact her, and that we’d see her at the funeral. If you have one or multiple siblings, it is important to remember that at the end of it all, they are the ones that will be your main link to the past and the most reliable friendships you will have. As much as my full blood sister and I have our spats, and my half sister and I talk sporadically, we will always be there for each other if needed. It is both an important lesson my mother preached and led by example through her own relationship with her sister.