Reflection

Posted On June 5, 2013

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I posted something about this on Facebook as well, but I wanted to write a little more about it here, as well.  I felt so limited by Facebook and like I couldn’t say what was really on my mind. 

grandma1
Today would have been my grandmother’s 85th birthday.  She passed away in April of 2012. 

I had lost touch with her that last few years.  I had lost touch with a lot of people that last few years.  I allowed my life to get in the way of what was important – family.

I have cousins who have children the same age as my own that they will never know. I have cousins that I was very close to growing up that I haven’t spoken to in about half of my life. I’m going to be 32 this year. That’s a long time to let words go unspoken. And yet, I cannot figure out how to bridge the gap that has grown into a huge chasm. I cannot figure or how to nine forward.

I started to write this post on my tablet, and decided to move to the computer to make it a little easier, though nothing about this is easy. I fully expect the tears to flow freely by the time I am done.

I am surrounded every day by people who love and care for me. I have a wonderful, loving husband and three beautiful children, two of whom I worry that I can never spend enough time with, as their time is shared between here and their other home.

But yet, even with being surrounded by people who love and care for me as they do, I still feel as though there is a part of me that is missing.

I should be able to be happy. While my family had to say goodbye to a lot of people this year, the loss of my grandmother pictured above in April, and then the loss of my grandfather, James O’Neill, my mother’s father whom I regrettably do not have a photo of, but we also had moments of celebration. I became an aunt.

Jamie

That little girl fills me with hope for the future. Her parents are young, but they are well equipped to provide for her and they are surrounded by friends and family who will help and support and love them in whatever life may throw their way. And that is the way it should be.

And yet, I still feel like a piece of my heart is missing. Many years ago, a gap formed within my family that has since seemingly grown to be as large as the Grand Canyon and no matter what I try to do, I cannot find the way to bridge it.

As children, we sit idly by and allow life to happen around us, never owning it or taking control of the destiny, the course that is laid out before us. We are guided and loved and protected by those who are charged with caring for us. And as we grow, we gain the strength and confidence to stand on our own, to stand tall and proud and be able to allow life to continue on.

Too much time has passed. I realize that now. I realize this because, now I am an adult and I feel the weight of this divisiveness resting squarely on my shoulders. How do I move forward without looking back? Honestly, I have no idea.

With the loss of my grandmother last year, I realized that it had been too long and I needed to do something. This became evident in the manner in which I found out that she had passed on. I hadn’t even known she was ill. It was one cousin who was brave enough to cross the chasm and reach out, and they did so knowing that there was a strong possibility that others would disapprove, but they felt it was the right thing to do.

Then, I had a health scare. I was at a gym and began having some intense chest pains that were abated after a while after the exercise was ceased. I went to the doctor. Turns out, I have a mild heart defect. Eventually, I will need to have valve replacement surgery. This is a scary prospect, as my father was around my age when he had his first heart attack. And let’s talk about my father’s health. He is in his early 50s and has had at least a triple bypass, has had to have one kidney removed, has had multiple heart catheterizations and stents placed. This man has survived cancer, twice. He has beaten the odds every step of the way.

We never know when our time is going to be up. I decided I could not let another year go by without trying very hard to right whatever had gone wrong.

And some were receptive. Some responded right away, and others took time and we are still building the relationship that we lost when I was a very young child.

And others, well others have not been receptive and will not even respond telling me to go away. They just ignore my efforts. I need to learn that I cannot control the actions of others. That I have done my best, and that I have to let it go and move forward, but I cannot figure out how.

Photo_00001It is in looking at my youngest child that some of these things sting the most. You see the little girl in that photo? She is 2-1/2. She has a lot of health issues, conditions that are most likely genetic, though due to the circumstances, I am not able to find out a lot about family history with our extended family and if I could, it might answer a lot of questions. I have honestly been told that knowing the history with my cousins and their children would possibly shed light on what we are really dealing with with her and what the best course of action would be, but unfortunately, that information is just outside of my reach. The neurologist suspects something in the realm of autism and a mild cerebral palsy, caused by a genetic factor, but because the family history is lost, she will have to undergo painful genetic testing to find out and it will delay diagnosis and treatment.

But the reality for me is this. Life is too short. I need to reach out where I can. Do I give up and try to move on, knowing that I did the best I could, but always feeling like if it was good enough, the distance I feel in my heart would be healed? Or do I keep trying, keep getting pushed away, and keep feeling my heart break into a million pieces every time?

I don’t know. I don’t know all of the answers. I don’t know what it is my heart needs to heal, to move forward. I wish we lived in a perfect world and family knew how to let go of the past and move on, but I realize now that too much time has passed. I realize that the anger, the distrust, and the unhappiness has been allowed to breed for too long to allow that to happen.

I can only hope that in the end, they know that I love them, and that I miss them, and I wish I knew how to set things right. For some of these things, in the case of my cousins, the battle was not even ours. We shouldn’t let it effect us, but some just don’t know anything else. There is nothing more I can do.

See, I knew the tears would flow freely by the time I finished this, and they are. Luckily, I have some tissues at hand to stem the flow.

And in writing this all out, I can begin to heal. My childhood is long gone and I am an adult. It is time for me to be the change I wish to see. I will live my life to the fullest every day, never knowing when it will be the last. I will reach out and connect where I am able and allowed, and perhaps the rest will come in time.

IF you have ever been a part of my life, or touched me in any way, know that I will never forget and I love you all very much. For anyone I have lost touch with over the years, friends, family or otherwise, I am right here.

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