I have found that there are some things I know for certain.
1. All of the best days of my life are behind me.
2. The term lighthearted will never again fit as a description for me.
3. I will heal and enjoy life.
I have spent this week examining objects in the attic of my soul. Some of them are very dusty. In thinking about my guilt and the need to forgive myself I realized that hidden deep down I still had some resentment towards my mom for the death of my sister. When I was around fifteen my nine year old sister died of pneumonia while she was in the hospital for an uncommon intestinal problem. What odd trail led to this realization?
A phrase that I have been puzzling over for a few years had been playing through my mind. "You are only as happy as your saddest child." My mom had been at work one day when a man said this in front of her. We were talking that evening and she told me she had rejected that idea. One of my mom's strengths is her ability to laugh and have fun no matter what life throws at her. Having more than one child who suffers from depression it would be hard on her to live her whole life under the constraints of that phrase. I understood her point; she does deserve to be as happy as possible; life is too long to be unhappy. On the other hand I felt that she should acknowledge that some of the reasons her children were unhappy stemmed from their childhoods. I filed the whole thing away under things that confuse me.
Now, several years later, I was examining the phrase to see how I felt about it for myself. As I try to heal there is guilt for feeling better. If I walk outside and smile because it is a beautiful day out I feel guilty for enjoying a day that Jason cannot. If my son died because he lost hope in life can I ever truly be happy? These are the questions I wrestle with every day now.
As I thought about myself it became obvious to me that I had never forgiven my mother for her mistakes as a parent. My father was a horrible parent, and person overall. I did make it a point in my early twenties to forgive him. It was nothing I needed to tell him about. We were already estranged and I had no intentions of reversing that. It was something I needed to do to let go of any anger that could make me bitter. So right there at work I paused to forgive my mother for her mistakes as a parent. I know I will have to do this more than once as other resentments come to the surface, but I immediately felt better.
I was talking with my mom tonight and the subject came around to the fact that as a family we never did grieve for my sister. There was no funeral or burial. One day she was just gone. My mom was not in a strong enough position at the time to lead us through it. We did not mention this during our conversation, but the fact was there. I hope she forgives herself. Life is hard enough without carrying around loads of guilt.