Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Your Sister

June 15, 2011

Hi Andrea,

          Six more days until the first day of summer.

          A pair of chestnut backed chickadees have taken up residence in the bird house on the front porch.  The box is full of baby bird chirp chirp chirping.  All I saw when I peeked in was the open throats of the cheeping babies crowned by beaks.  I could not count how many.  Stella amuses herself by sitting on the bench by the front window.  She presses her face against the glass twitching, watching.  Mom and Dad engage in a relay of bugs and grubs brought back to drop into the  open throats, the hunger endless.  I am surprised they do not wear themselves out trying to catch enough to keep themselves alive , trying to  satiate the growing hunger of their nestlings.

          Right now—I’d just like to have my porch back. 

          And you.  I need to talk to you.  About your sister. 

          She texted me this past Saturday, “Jasmine is graduating from high school.”   She wanted me to come to graduation.  I was busy all day Saturday.  Did not see the message.
On Sunday morning, at 9:05, she texted again, “So I guess I have your answer.  And I guess I am done waiting for you to find a place for me in your life.” 
Your sister knows how I feel about Jasmine.  She is her friend, not mine.  All the months that you were sick and all the drama she created.  I will never forget the last time you were in the hospital.  I called your sister to come have dinner with me,  and then come with me to see you.  I talked to you before dinner and told you I was meeting your sister and Jasmine for dinner.  They would be coming to see you with me.
          “Mom,” you said resignedly, “Jasmine will never come see me in the hospital.  All those times I have sat with her in the ER, brought her Sadie, she won’t come.  And if my sister comes without her, she will call non stop and create a huge drama.”
          “Oh , Andrea.  That is silly.  She’ll come see you.”
          “No Mom.  You wait and see.”
          That was the last night I got to spend with you.
          After dinner your sister announced she would meet me at the hospital.  She had to drop Jasmine off somewhere.  I tried to coax her to come.  Jasmine wouldn’t have it.
And sure enough, when your sister came to the hospital without her, she was calling your cell phone, your sister’s cell phone , the  hospital phone.  I never got the whole story about what was going on.  But the word chaos comes to mind in describing that whole scene now.
          I texted your sister back “I did not get your messages until this morning.  To answer your question I always have room for you.”  It is her friend I have no room for.  Your sister knows this.  She conditions a relationship with me on my acceptance of Jasmine. 
          Not long after I sent the text, she responded “You don’t even try to make time for me, never have .  Sorry to bother you.”
I think your sister started telling me this when we moved to Cambridge, right after I started law school.  Yep.  She knows where my buttons are.  This is her mantra.
          And for that reason, I have not responded yet.  That, and I have nothing else to say.  I am done fighting.  I have no energy left to fight with.  She wins.  I was a terrible mother.  I am a terrible mother.
          But she is 35 now.  It is time to stop blaming.  Stop demanding.  I gave her all her baby pictures and toddler pictures after you died.  I wanted her to have that, to look through that so she would remember how much I love her.  She was always so jealous of you, she could never see that.  Jealousy poisons everything.
          What she doesn’t understand is that in addition to being a mother, I am a human being too.  I have needs and wants.  What she doesn’t understand is that she is a woman now.  To have a mother, she has to be a daughter.
          How can I tell her that?
                                                             Awaiting your reply.
                                                             Love , Mom