Family split

These days I dream every night and mostly in vivid detail, more than at any other stage of my life. I’ve given up thinking anything much of it. Occasionally I might dwell briefly on a dream, surprised more about the unexpected faces featuring in it than any deeper meaning. But then, as dreams go, they’re gone.

Last night though I dreamt of my step-sister and I woke up this morning feeling sad.

I was very close to my step-sister. When my mum married a second time we became an extended family. She was about 17 then and crushed on me for a while, which is probably not unusual in the circumstances. She wanted nothing more than to be part of a family again and she loved my mum, and as part of the package she gained a cool older brother.

As it turned out we hit it off naturally anyway. She was an attractive, intelligent, bubbly personality. Everyone loved her because she was so easy and natural with them. I don’t think she ever stopped crushing on me completely, but in return I grew very fond of her. (Even after she married I often felt as if she felt more in tune with me than with her husband). The truth of it is that in the extended family we were the two closest siblings, even though our relationship was purely by marriage. Certainly I was much closer to her in nature, in attitude, in personality, than I was with my own natural born sister. For many years we shared good times.

That all changed in the aftermath of mum’s death. The family split in two along bloodlines and her side of the family chose to challenge mum’s will. From principle as much as anything else, we resisted. The fall-out was that our relationship ended, even after a settlement had been reached.

I was sad at that but at the same time the dispute had soured me of families for a while. I accepted our break as a consequence of that.

In the years since we’ve had no direct contact. She made a late night call to me a few years ago that I didn’t notice till the day after. Last year I was surprised to find her following me on Facebook, and eventually I sent her a message hoping to repair the relationship. She never responded.

Catching up with my cousins lately I got some news of her. They’re still friends with her on Facebook and until recently, my Aunt told me, she had been sending birthday cards up. I knew she had split from her husband a few years back. They told me she had taken up with an older man in Queensland, where she lives. They told me she’d just returned from a visit to Melbourne.

I thought about her on the drive back from lunch. A lot of that time feels wrong and nothing will change that because a lot of that time was wrong. Looking back it was an ugly and terribly difficult time of my life. Not only had my mum just died and a conflict erupted over her will, but I was also broke and unemployed and almost certainly suffering from depression. I was a mess.

I understood the rupture between us at that time, but always felt as if I had more reason to be aggrieved than her. I would have accepted whatever was in mum’s will and all I was doing was defending her final wishes. It was my step-sister and her family who were challenging it.

We lost contact and she deleted me as a friend on Facebook. I understood that, but she also unfriended Donna, who had nothing to do with this. They were friendly and got on well, though Donna first and foremost was my friend. Once more, I can only presume it was that relationship that my step-sister could no longer abide. She became collateral damage and I never really understood why.

So now I’m dreaming about her and what I feel is affection and sorrow. We had a deep connection. I loved her, and she me. After losing my mother that was he next biggest loss I suffered, and they came as a double whammy. Clearly I’ve never got over that loss completely.

I’m tempted to let it go and accept it as one of the unfortunate mischances that occur in life. Sad, but there it is.

It’s an interesting case for me. I’ve never really been someone who’ll let fate dictate my life. That’s just not my nature. Common sense tells me to let it go, but I wonder how that will leave me feeling. No matter everything that’s happened to me I’ve never lost my sense of hope. Part of that is the belief that it’s better to do something than nothing. You have to try. It seems to me that if I let it slide then it’s an acceptance that there are no happy endings. As they say though, for all my grumpiness, I always vote life.

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