Thursday, March 3, 2022

Microstory 1834: Much Older Sister

My sisters and I were never close, mostly because they didn’t know that I was their sister. Our parents were split on whether they wanted me to help take care of them or not, so I kind of did both. Let me start at the very beginning. Our parents didn’t much like each other. They were the product of an arranged marriage, precipitated by four mothers and fathers who were themselves not products of arranged marriages. Nor did the bloodline have a history of it. It was just something they wish they had done. All of them were unhappy, and decided the only way to prevent the next generation from going through the same thing was to make this decision for their children. Of course it didn’t work, because that wasn’t exactly a scientifically proposed hypothesis. Still, my mom and dad stayed together—to the end, as it happened—because that’s what was expected of them. They were pretty good actors, and only got better with time. I’m old enough to remember how apathetic they were towards each other, but my much younger sisters are not. More to the point, they were never really paying attention, or they may have noticed that they never saw their own parents show affection towards one another in front of them, not even when they thought they were alone. That was weird, and honestly, my sisters should have picked up on it. But this isn’t just about them. When I was still an only child, I left home at age sixteen, and started to live my own life. They never really wanted to have me, because I was the result of an obligation, rather than love, so they were fine with this. We didn’t hate each other, but we stopped talking, because we had never developed a support system, so there wasn’t any point. I met a man who I loved dearly, and began to plan my own family, which never materialized.

After seven years of being estranged, my parents sent me a letter, informing me that they were pregnant again. I wish I could find that letter—or note, to put it more aptly. I remember it being so formal and to the point. It was something like, I’m pregnant with another daughter, and nothing else. My husband had just died not one week before, and I was feeling so alone. I wanted that support system I never had, so I tried to return. Again, there was no hostility, but my parents didn’t care about me, and they didn’t want me to live with them. As fate would have it, a house went up for sale in their neighborhood around that time, so I bought it with the money my parents-in-law were giving me to help out after their son passed. I realized then how much closer I was with them than my real parents, and I was grateful for this. I kept my married name, and tried to be in my sister’s life as much as possible. She remained completely unawares of our true relationship. She, and our youngest sister later on, would always refer to me as their aunt, but ya know, the kind of aunt that isn’t related. It was heartbreaking, but I chose to respect our parents’ wishes. Or rather, I respected their parents’ wishes, because I had long ago accepted that I was no longer a daughter. Their health declined at about the same time, even though they were seven years apart, so I contributed as much as I could for someone who wasn’t supposed to be too invested in their lives. When they passed, I suggested the three of us take a trip together to connect, and put the past behind us. They were interested in hiking up a mountain, so that’s what we’re doing. I was planning to finally tell them who I was when a selfie accident kills us all.

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