I Reconnected With My Sister

Last year at this time, our relationship was non-existent. The last time we had seen eachother was three years ago; she came with my mom to visit me while I was admitted to the Adult Inpatient Mental Health Program located at Victoria Hospital. 

The time before that, it had to have been at least 4 years before. 

Our communication has always been sparse and inconsistent. We have the same Dad, but different Moms. We never spent holidays or birthdays together; I doubt that there were any invites from either side of the family anyway. At the bottom of it all, I know we both wanted our Dad to be with our Mom and not the other, and to fulfill his parental role. Even though he was with my Mom from when I was born, their relationship was more than toxic. To get a glimpse into this, it was either walking down the stairs to see them in the middle of a fight or with them perfectly cuddled-up on the couch. The next week, I’d watch my mom kick him out of the house, where days before they were planning to move to a new house together. This situation was already conflicting how I saw both my Mom and Dad, and because they had so many issues between them, having a relationship with my sister didn’t seem possible. 

This changed when we received a call from my uncle; my Dad got into a motorcycle accident while in Florida for work and passed away. 

The week after was chaotic and is somewhat of a blur now. I can’t recall which airport my Mom and I flew out of, if we flew with my sister, when I saw my sister in Florida, etc. But I remember us not wanting to leave one another’s side when we did see each other over the course of that week. Afterwards, we had intentions to stay close and remain in contact. We wanted to be there for one another, because no one else was feeling the pain we were in. But it was so difficult. All of my memories with her had my Dad in them too; it brought up overwhelming amounts of angst and lost. It wasn’t long until we kept communication to a minimum by texting to check-in once in awhile.

Speeding up to last year, I had saved enough money to visit my Dad’s half of the family in Florida. Visiting them was something I had wanted to do for years. I saw them frequently when I was younger and living in Atlanta, Georgia. However, once moving back to Canada, we didn’t visit them; the last time I saw any of them was 8 years ago at my Dad’s funeral. 

Once I had surprised each family member, they immediately asked, “Did you come with your mum?”, “How’s your sister doing?”, and “Can we call to talk to her?”.  

This put me in a dreadful position. 

I knew they wanted to hear that everything was going well between my sister and I over the years, and I know they wanted to call her desperately . Despite not talking to my sister for years, I still had her phone number; I told them that I have no idea if she’s changed it, since we don’t talk. We stood around my phone, gave her a facetime call, and she answered. It definitely was an awkward, small-talk conversation at first; but she said she was glad that I came to Florida and seemed ecstatic to see everyone over the phone.

But, right after talking to everyone I messaged her to apologize how random and overwhelming all of that might’ve been. I didn’t get a response.

I tried messaging her again a few days later- still no response. What added to the hurt was that I saw her posting on social media.

I could not have been more confused about why I was being ignored. All of my family members had speculations about why and advice on what I should do next. I decided to let it be and I’ll try again at a later date. 

Summer went by and we still hadn’t talked since Florida. 

In December, my cousin from Florida facetimed me asking if I’ve heard from my sister. The answer was still no and I still hadn’t tried to reach out again. In a way, I felt like she should be the one to message me, since I had already tried and she’s the older one (I wanted her to show some kind of initiative or want to connect with me). My cousin told me that my sister’s mom posted some news on Facebook and that I should look when I get a chance. I checked her status and found out that my sister was 6 months pregnant. I was absolutely heartbroken for a bunch of reasons. The main ones were that I didn’t know before random people on Facebook found out and not telling me early on completely eliminated my opportunity to be a source of support through such an important time. I came to the conclusion that based on everything, my sister wanted  nothing to do with me.

On the days leading up to New Years Eve, I kept thinking about different ways I could’ve handled conflicts I had throughout the year. With my sister, I could’ve tried calling her, asking her if she even wanted to talk with my family in Florida, stopped ruminating, stopped thinking how siblings ‘should be’, and more. 

On January 3rd, I decided to message her.

The context of the message was centered around how I wish everything was different between us, that I’m still confused about what I did to be ignored, and finally I should stop bothering her/trying to reconnect. 

She responded a couple of hours later. 

She wanted to build a proper relationship with me and said that she’ll explain in person why she’s been absent. We planned to get together within the next week. I was ridiculously nervous to see her and hear what she had to say. 

Finally, when I saw her for the first time in four years I was overjoyed. We talked for hours and she answered all of my questions. At times throughout the years, she felt that I wasn’t interested in talking to her; I explained to her why I found it difficult. Additionally, she revealed that while I was in Florida and afterward, she was going through a hard time and just couldn’t respond to what I said. Two months went by and she found out that she was pregnant. Then she had to be admitted into the hospital countless times due to a pregnancy condition she had; she didn’t tell many people she was pregnant, since it wasn’t going super well. She said that her mom didn’t inform her that she posted a pregnancy announcement on Facebook and never saw it, because she doesn’t have Facebook. Overall, time went by and she didn’t know when it’d be appropriate to reach out to me about events that had happened months before.

I understood where she came from. 

This year we’ve gotten together three times and talk at least every other day. This is all still fairly new and different for both of us, but we both have expressed how fulfilling this already is. It feels like I’m reunited with my childhood friend as we go through memories we’ve shared as kids. This experience has allowed me to learn more about myself and become optimistic even in times of hardship and extreme confusion. By actively trying to resolve decades of conflict between us, the heaviest burdens are finally becoming weightless.

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