I'm not supposed to be enjoying this trip. I loved my brother-in-law and miss him very much. I miss his wit, his love and even the long arguments we had about his conservative politics and my liberal ones. In spite of all her crap, I love my sister and hate to see her in so much pain. It hurts to see my nieces cry because the step-father, who became their father, is no longer here. I feel guilt because even with all the hurt and pain, I have enjoyed this trip.
First, there was the time spent with the newest relatives Athens and his terrific father Mark. No one could believed that I would actually feed a baby and volunteer to change his diaper. And Mark, I came to Texas ready to dislike him. I thought he was way too old for my niece. Boy, was I wrong about him. I also connected with Abigail, who turned 7 on January 8 and bonded with their mom Roni, a girl who has had lots of troubles but has finally matured and outgrown many of them.
(Caitlin, Abigail and Larkin) I also value the time spent with the Dallas connection, my niece Lisa and her husband Chris and their two great girls Caitlin and Larkin. It is a shame that distance has kept us apart but we have vowed to try to get together more often.
The biggest surprise for me was the love I found when I met Iris and Mike's two best friends, John and Vicki. The snobby New Yorker in me could not imagine having anything in common with these two hillbillies (their words, not mine) from Missouri, now residents of Minnesota. John and Vicki are two of the brightest, warmest, funniest people I have ever met. My sister is fortunate to have such a wonderful extended family and my life has been enriched just by spending a few days fwith them.
I almost forgot to mention my friends Terry and Norman who, by coincidence, moved to the same town in Texas as my sister, within weeks of my sister. Terry and I have been friends since seventh grade. Although we spent the days with my sister, we slept in their house and caught up on old times. I only am sorry that I forgot to take their picture so I don't have one of them to post here.
I did speak at the memorial service and I would be lying if I said I did not say I enjoyed seeing every one's face and hearing their chuckles as I told my New York story about Mike. It felt good to hear their nice words as they left the sanctuary. It felt great to know I was able to bring a little laughter amidst all the sorrow.
Last, and most importantly, is the relationship I am beginning to forge with my sister. I am finally finding a way to put past hurts away and start anew, loving her as I always have, liking her because of the goodness in her heart and forgiving her and looking aside for the things she cannot help doing. I have always found a way to excuse the shortcomings of others, I am now trying to do the same thing for her.
I leave here today with a heavy heart, knowing that the pain we managed to relieve for a few short days will be returning as soon as my sister is alone. While there is nothing I can do about that, I vow to be the best sister to her possible. I will call her daily, maybe even multiple times daily. I will spend time with her when she is in New York, instead of avoiding her as I used to do. I will come back and visit her. I take away the lessons of her goodness and I will strive to become a person with a heart the size of hers.