Are you familiar with the saying, “What a difference a day makes”? I’ve had many days I’ve thought about that saying over the years. Be it for weather, nerves about a test, an upcoming interview, whatever you are most grateful was over with or resolved. The same holds true with feelings. In that split nanosecond when someone cuts you off on the highway, and you become enraged, to the relief in finding your wallet dropped in the car instead of the mall parking lot you left an hour ago. Feelings can complicate, enhance, repair and rip apart your soul. Time can be all-powerful and begin to mend them. Sometimes in a day or in my case, surprisingly, just a handful of hours. In my case, it was wee hours of the morning.
We had a pretty bad day. Like many uncomfortable events, it started with a misunderstanding and grew in tension that became so thick, a knife was useless. It would have required a chainsaw to carve through. When siblings lock horns, and feelings become fragile splintered glass needles. It is difficult for parents to navigate or offer advice. In our case, when one is leaving, moving out of state for a new job, a new beginning, ready to write chapters all her own. Yet the other sister is staying on, finishing undergrad work, looking at a path in a different direction next year. You do not want them to depart in anger. Oh, time will heal the harsh words and hurt feelings, but the relationship will be frayed, not torn, but damaged nonetheless.
As I crawled into bed, feeling terrible that nothing I could say or offer would be accepted. No mothers soothing words and kisses on the forehead can erase this kind of pain. The ache inside me grew but I knew they had to figure this out without me. A few hours later as the light from my cell phone directed my way to get a drink of water, I found a note. Just a few words I could make out on the bright screen in the darkness. All was forgiven. Everything was right in the world. Immediately the weight on my shoulders lifted, it suddenly began to rain. A cool breeze flowed through the house and the air was lighter. When I went back to bed, it was with a smile on my face. Our little family was whole again.
That night, our children (funny isn’t it, no matter what their age, they will always be our ‘children’) healed one another’s feelings and hearts. Apologies were both given and accepted. They listened and actually heard what the other one said, how they felt and the why behind the words. They laughed and supported, cried and ultimately became stronger and better sibling to the other. I can not wish for anything more than that can I? It means the world to me that each has the other to lean on, be with and ultimately grow old together when I’m gone. To be honest, not having a sibling makes me feel a little lost in this world.
I miss my brother terribly, who I only had a relationship with for a handful of my adult years. In part thanks to a bitter relative who walked away and chose to carry anger and misunderstanding tightly inside. I can’t fix it, nor can I reach out more than I’ve tried in the past. But for my own daughters, seeing hurt and anger between them cut me deeply. I’m so proud that during the formidable years, with a little nudging, encouraging communication and growth to understand one another nurtured a special relationship. They were actually listening all along! How about that?
It is my hope we all can come together, feel the pain of the other, then figure out the path toward healing.
Our family is not unique, although it is stronger than some, yet my husband has always said, we know what needs to be done. We know the why and it is the listening and accepting how the other feels that is the key. To continue to love one another through that is the magic. And caring enough to go through storm after storm is the faith in family. Recognizing who the individual is as they are, not to change them into what YOU want them to be, but to help them be the best they can critical. Difficult true, but not impossible. I know that now.
How deeply emotional, yet healing and all-encompassing this experience has been. I am still amazed at what was learned in just a handful of hours. It is life changing. Just as life can change with an unexpected apology, “I’m deeply sorry I hurt you” or when a beloved member of the family unexpectedly dies, and you are blindsided with grief, it turns one’s life in an instant. It changes. It can change for the better in precisely the same amount of time. To be mindful and accept those moments are indeed a step toward if not enlightenment, serenity.
Breathe Deep, Think Peace