In this moment, I hate her with my whole heart.
Sibling has three adult children--daughters who are 28, 26 and 22. Over the years, no matter how much heartache and pain Sibling caused the family, I did my best to be as involved with my nieces as I could. When Sibling wouldn't allow us to see them because of some slight that existed only in her imagination, I held my nieces in my heart. When Sibling allowed us to see them again, I only spoke kindly of their mother, my oldest sibling.
So, when Sibling started her nonsense this summer, I followed that script. When Sibling and her husband boycotted my parents' anniversary party and my dad's birthday, I made sure my nieces who did show felt comfortable and at ease. When my youngest niece helped me move my parents, I told my niece how much I much I liked where she placed the toaster her mom bought in my parents' kitchen. When I see my niece, a librarian at our local library, I am friendly and loving.
At the combination anniversary and birthday party, I gave my oldest niece, S., a birthday card with an offer to treat her for dinner. I reached out to S. a few weeks ago, asking when we could get together for dinner. (S. is the niece who lashed out at my mom at the nursing home this summer.)
Today, I finally received a reply from S.:
Hi Aunt Denise. I'm sorry for taking this long to reply to you text. I have been wanting to respond but unsure of what to say. Here's what I know: It's really hard and upsetting for me when there's discord among extended family members, and it was really sad and upsetting for me to feel like the extended family fell apart this summer. Family is so important to me and I am still feeling very sad about the current state of things. At this moment in time, I can't say yes to getting together one-on-one. I will be at Aunt B. and Uncle K.'s for dessert on Thanksgiving so I will see you then. Hope things are going okay.
I penned a reply, which looked like this:
I guess I'm pretty confused. Your mom told Aunt J. this summer at the nursing home she was done with me. I've not done anything to your mom. I'd be happy to share our text thread between your mom and myself and your aunt and uncles. I have made the choice to surround myself with healthy, supportive people. We're all disappointed at how (and how often) your mom bailed on us this summer. During some really difficult moments when I really needed help, your mom refused to help. And, yet, I've never said, "I'm done with her." We've just moved on. I think given how much drama and heartache your mom has caused (and for no reason), we've been incredibly gracious. We're inclusive, not excluding anyone regardless of how badly they behave. We've invited your mom to all family events that have happened--your mom has chosen not to show. And, she doesn't reply that she can't come--she just doesn't show. You are strong enough to see who your mom is, S. The truth has been there for years. You can love her and love us, too. I'm sorry your mom continues to create and perpetuate the discord. I'm sorry she's led you to believe you must pick sides. It's terribly sad.
But, I didn't send that one (at least not yet). I sent this one:
Oh, I'm so glad you'll be at Thanksgiving. See you then.
I should also note that my brother, who has been just as distressed as I about Sibling, is hosting Thanksgiving this year and sent an invitation to everyone in the family, including Sibling and her family.
I also just ate three pieces of Halloween candy.
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