We always end up talking about our parents; my mother, who has been gone for almost three years now, and my dad, who grapples with the strange mix of his grief and his freedom. As the oldest and youngest child in the family, my sisters share some common circumstances, like the burden and benefit of great expectations from my mother. She was in awe of both of them for different reasons and encouraged them to be all that they were capable of being. All that she knew they were.
Perhaps it's different for middle children - at least it was different for me. I was not necessarily expected to excel, and to this day, it puzzles me that Mom seemed to overlook the possibility that I could achieve something of value, or that I, too, had unique gifts. That we were all simply diamonds in the rough.
Tonight, I stayed silent for a long time as my sisters talked about how hard it is to go home now that Mom is not there. They both long for her company, her nurturing and even the drama of their imperfect relationship. The audience of her is gone, and they miss it profoundly. I listened with a conscious half smile that I was certain reflected the perfect level of empathy and understanding. This time, I almost made it.
And then, I said it. Yet again. 'I don't feel that way.'
For some reason, I still have to assert my perspective, like I will disappear altogether otherwise. I loved my mother, but we did not share the intense connection that exists between the believer and the one who is believed in. Unlike my sisters, I had to create my own self image without the benefit of being essential to my mother's satisfaction. Even though their relationships were not ideal, I envy my sisters' longing, their need for her and their desire to bask in her adoration one more time.
Every time I say it - 'I don't feel that way' - I regret it. Stating this serves no one and just feels immature and bratty, like the prelude to a toddler's tantrum. One day very soon, I will fulfill my goal of being supportive and warm as I listen to them recall the connection with our mother that they long for and have lost. I will smile sweetly and nod, keeping my own loss to myself.
Image from blogs.independent.co.uk