Monday, October 08, 2007

Some Thoughts Before We Return to Posts About Popular Culture

When I put up my post regarding my mom's death, it is a very personal action in more ways than one. It is personal in that I am revealing a little bit of my life to the world, but it is also personal in that I am only writing about how I feel (or felt) about the event. In a way, this is very unfair to a number of people that I care deeply about who were also affected by my mom's death.

I am not writing about how they felt, or even about how we dealt with the situation together. I am writing just from my perspective. But I am do this because it is the only point of view I really have. I have no real way of knowing what these other people are experiencing, nor what they experienced, because I have had different experiences. My dad knew my mom years before I did, and I knew her for years before my sister did. Each of us, in a very real way, came to know a very different woman. That said, I would like to try to share what I think some of those differences are.

I am 9 years 8 month and 8 days older than my sister Krista. I was born on "Elvis' Birthday" and she was born on the anniversary of his death, January 8th and August 16th for those of you wondering. Which means that I have 9-plus years of memories about my mom that Krista will never have. It also means, because like many 20-somethings I was very independent of my family for a time, that Krista has some memories that I will never have. And a lot of the memories that my sister has are of my mom's struggle with, and loss to, addiction.

I have no personal experience of what it is like to live in the same apartment as a heroin addict, for which I am grateful. Moreover, I have no experience of what it is like to be a teenager living in the same apartment as a heroin addict. In the grand scheme of life, it is probably one of the last things I would ever want to experience. But my sister did just that, the combination of love and frustration must have been near unbearable. I don't know how I would have dealt with the situation, I hope I would do alright. My sister did much better than I imagine the average person in her circumstances would have.

It is one of the many things I admire about my sister, that she was able to survive that situation. I actually don't think my sister understands how much I admire her period, let alone for her strength in this situation. I think she sometimes thinks that I look down on her for not making some of the same choice that I have made, but that isn't true at all. Being almost 10 years older than my sister meant that I spent a lot of time babysitting her, taking her to the park, or even to concerts I wouldn't have otherwise attended. I changed her diapers on many occasions and must seem, in some way, to be a bit of a parental figure to her and, given my stodginess and geekdom, not even the "cool" parent. So I can see why my opinion is important to her, and how my own life experiences might make her think that I believe the choices I made are the only way to happiness. But I don't believe that at all.

In fact, if people knew a formula to happiness, there wouldn't be philosophy and a lot of life would be a lot easier.
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