Once upon a time I thought I knew what it meant to have unconditional love.
My mom, my sister, and I have been through a lot in our lives. It hasn’t always been pretty. In fact, there were so many times when it was more than ugly. Times when it was gruesome.
My whole life, I have really only wanted to protect the people I love, the ones I hold dear. For me that has often come out as planning. I like to plan for things and be prepared. And I like to help people figure out plans.
I guess (although I don’t think I knew this at the time) that I always thought I could help my family see the things they were going through with a bit more clarity. After all, I was on the outside and able to see better, right?
Except now I realize that I was right in the thick of it all. Every plan I came up with might have sounded wonderful but it didn’t mean it spoke to the heart of my mom or sister. Still they were amazing for humoring me and often following at least some of my ideas.
There was a stretch of time before W was born when my sister and I weren’t talking. To be honest, I cannot remember exactly what made us build up the wall of silence between us.
I have a feeling it probably had something to do with the way I thought she should be. The way I thought she should be living her life to help her find happiness.
For the record, I no longer believe there is anything to “finding happiness.” It’s not something you have to find. It’s just something you have and you have to let yourself have. It’s more of a decision you make for yourself.
But anyway, I remember how far away she seemed. And I can remember how hard it was on my mom.
Then I gave birth to my son and felt my heart grow in ways I could never imagine. W brought my sister and I back together. I will forever be in his debt for that even though he was doing nothing more than being an amazing little boy.
Little did anyone know that less than 7 months after he was born, his Auntie Mer would no longer be with us. My sister and I were getting along. We were talking, texting, and laughing again. I had so many plans of all the things she would do with W and I.
Plans that never happened.
And now I understand a bit more about unconditional love. It’s not about planning or thinking you know what’s right or what is best. No matter how long life is, it is short. Whether it’s 23 years or 83 years, it’s still short. And loving and accepting those dearest to you whether you’re happy with their choices or not is what is most important.
Now this may be hard for me to remember as I raise and guide my own children. But at least my heart is much more open to it now.
My heart knows a bit more about unconditional love. It’s just one of the gifts my sister left me.