I’ll be away for the next few days, in North Carolina, to visit my family and to attend my sister’s M.Ed. graduation. This higher degree is impressive by any standards, but all the more so because my sister managed the achievement while a) going through a rather terrible divorce (is there any other kind?) b) taking care of 2 tiny girls and c) working full time. Of course, she couldn’t have done it without the constant support of my parents with whom she lived, with the children, while she got her life together after her marriage ended. My parents were the extra hands and feet (and wheels) – integral to cooking, pick-up, homework, babysitting and providing love and care for 3 kids (let’s not except my sister) still whirling from emotional whiplash.
The end of a marriage is a loss even to those on its periphery. It’s the end of innocence, of long-held (but inaccurate) perspectives, the death of day-to-day relatedness and trust. Many people grieved my sister’s “failed marriage”, non-functional as it was. It’s not for me to publicly discuss the father of my nieces, but my former BIL worked masterfully to make a hard situation that much harder – on this, we have the corroboration of the courts. All I can say is, till you’ve seen someone scrape herself off the floor and scratch her way independence, it’s challenging to imagine the scene. Alas, it’s an effective way to reframe “failed marriage” as “successful self-determination” – which has a nice ring to it, you have to admit.
My sister has always cherished children – what they symbolize and who they are. She’s one of those people beloved by kids. She has a sunny smile and a friendly voice. She listens and cares. She wants – expects – her students to reach their potential, which I'm sure they do.
As for her own children, as they grow and achieve their many life goals, they’ll continue to look to their mother as a force for positive change, a strong, sensitive mentor – someone whose voice is credible during the rough times because she’s been there and she didn’t give up. After all, what better gift can we give our children than to be our own best selves?
This post is to congratulate my sister on a life reclaimed: To Allison – and to her grand success!
(Please feel free to leave a comment - which I'm sure she'd love...)