Today I Cried

As I sit here to write this, I want to let you know first that this will not be my normal ramblings. Today I received the news that my sister’s husband passed away. No, it was not from Covid-19.

Rather than a virus, a heart attack claimed this husband and father of two, but it was no less final.

Yet, due to Covid-19, they were not allowed to mourn and be comforted as they would in normal times. A graveside service was all they were able to do, but family from out of state couldn’t be there to give comfort and hugs, at a time when family support is needed most.

Why Did I Cry?

I cried because my sister and I have not talked for over ten years.

The last time I saw her, and her family, was a “surprise” meeting at a theme park that was pretty clearly orchestrated by my son and her son—they wanted to see each other.

I am ashamed of myself and how I let this go on so long. I don’t remember even why or when the split happened, but it became the norm; before I knew it, the years had passed. It was easier to just go along as things were than to try to change them.

I am disappointed in myself that it took a death and a world-wide “pandemic” to get me to realize what a terrible mistake I had made.

After my perceptive wife “gently” nudged me to do the right thing, I called my sister last night. My wife often does that nudging thing, even when I am kicking and screaming like a child. Thankfully, my tantrum is usually done on the inside, not on full display in front of God and everyone.

The amazing thing is that I have a partner who sometimes knows me better than I know myself. She saw the signs of my avoidance, my uncomfortable dismissals about it being “too late to call” last night, because of time zones…and other side-stepping–all this after relaying, just two days before, how much I wanted to reach out to my sister the second I heard the news from our mother.

My wife suggested that maybe the time and distance was a paralyzing combination that was keeping me from doing what I wanted and needed to do.

Making the Call

I called my sister and the call went to voicemail. Immediately I felt an odd mixture of relief and disappointment, and I’ll admit I was tempted for a second to hang up, but I left a message.

As I put my phone down, I felt that I would not hear back, but at least I could tell myself that I “did my part.”

However, her call came in only seconds later. I picked up, telling her how sorry I was, letting her know I was there for her.

We did not bring up all the time that has passed in a direct way–or even allude to whatever petty thing had been keeping us apart–whether it was real or imagined; in that moment, none of that mattered.

What did matter was this: For the first time in years, my sister and I were talking.

I got to be the big brother I should have been for all those years. I owe you an amends for that, little sister.

What Never Mattered & What Always Will

For over an hour we talked about little things, general conversation about what was happening in our lives—what she liked to do, what she was dealing with as we both were getting older.

We talked about the kids being adults and needing us less and less, pickleball, tennis, and even meniscus tears. Oddly enough, we both have had issues with our left knees. We discussed the current events that have the whole world fighting the same enemy.

Was it a deep conversation? No, it was not.

Was it a great apology for all the lost time and placing fault where it belonged? No, it was not that either.

But you, reader — who are likely smarter than I am — may have already concluded something I should’ve known long ago: Whatever it was we were split over, it never really mattered.

Talking and Listening

So, here I sit this morning, trying to put all the feelings that have been running through me on paper—or, in this case, out into the digital universe. Realizing yet again how woefully inadequate my wordsmith skills are, I’ll just say that I hope anyone reading this can “feel” some of the depths that have flowed through me these last couple of days.

And I appreciate you, reader, for listening too…it was imperative for me to get these feelings out. And I still haven’t been able to express the full weight of the disappointment in myself for allowing this estrangement to last so long. But, that’s something I’ll have to work on.

I do hope that you might take something from my experience and make a choice–or just make a choice sooner.

If you have someone that you love but haven’t spoken to in a while, maybe what’s happening around us right now will lead you to reach out sooner, not later.

Maybe you can discover for yourself what I learned last night.

A Promise to My Little Sister

Family is what we make it to be, and there is nothing more valuable than the time we spend letting our loved ones know how important they are.

This is not done through grand gestures or elaborate showings—but in the time we spend letting them know they are important, loved, and cherished. Though I may not have believed it until last night, it’s never too late. My guess is they will be waiting on the other end of the line, glad that you reached out to them.

I will share one final thought with you, something that my sister said to me as we made our goodbyes.

She said, “Let’s not let it be so many years before we talk again.”

I promise you this, little sister: It will not be.

About the Author
The Gray Ghost straddles that line between "barely a Boomer" but still a Boomer. A life-long athlete, The Gray Ghost recognizes that age is more than just a number, like...a lot more. But, sometimes those he faces in competitive sports--people much younger who assume youth always outweighs experience--find themselves surprised, and maybe a little scared, by his moves.