Before you start reading this post, I ask that you please get into your most non-judgemental state of mind. I will be bringing up topics that are sensitive and hard for me to talk about and face. I actually wrote this three nights ago and have been battling with myself about posting it since then. I have decided it's better to let things out than keep them in.
I have a really bad habit that I was hoping to break this year.
I avoid things that are too emotionally difficult for me.
Things that I should not be avoiding.
And I do it much more often lately because when I am physically sore I feel like I can't handle almost anything emotionally.
It makes me feel pathetic.
Because this is such a difficult (and long!) topic for me to write about, I'll split it up into parts over the next few days.
This post topic started with my feelings of guilt surrounding my recent decline in visits to my uncle who has been in the hospital since June 2009.
He is dying of Stage 4 Glioblastoma (Brain Cancer).
He asks for me all the time (reported to me daily by my mom)
I thought it may help me to understand my recent reluctance to go there if I blogged about it (and got some advice from my readers?)
Before you decide that I'm heartless, judge me and sentence me to a life (and afterlife?)of living with guilt - I'll give you some background info.
My uncle moved to Canada when I was 11 years old. Prior to this, I had been a happy-go-lucky girl, the revered (adopted)only child, and I think that at that point I still liked it. The world as I knew it revolved around me. There were pleasant afternoons at the art gallery, zoo, harbourfront... But my little world changed drastically when my uncle came to live with us. No longer was I the center of attention, and although I grew to appreciate the tiny bit of extra freedom that came with that, the arguments and disquiet that it brought to my home was not enough incentive to make it good.
My mom had raised him until he was around 10 or 11 years old and then she immigrated to Canada (from the former Czechoslovakia).She had been pretty much his sole care giver before leaving, as my grandma was sick and in the hospital or away for respite care for much of my uncle's young life. My mom therefore has always kind of thought of my uncle as childlike, almost as if he and I were brother and sister, rather than uncle and niece. Which meant, in theory, that I now had to share my mother with a much older (and comlpletely ADULT) brother - who, despite his age, acted like a sullen and resentful teen.
I am still not sure how I feel about that dynamic, but nonetheless, it is/was the way it is/ will be, and so I will explain my dilemmas in relation to that reality.
When I was growing up, in particular when he was first getting used to life in Canada, life was hectic. There were arguments, there was resentment. There were a lot of things happening in my sheltered little life all of a sudden. And then he disapeared for a few years. Completely gone from my life, from my mom's life, from our family's life.
And then he was back.
(this part is all very abridged and vague, but I'm just trying to cover basics. If anyone, for whatever strange reason, is extremely intrigued by this dynamic leave me a comment and I'll write a post about that alone. It's too vast for this story. Which is already too long for it's own good.)
I love my uncle, but I have never really had a relationship with him. I mean, when I was really little and we were visiting Czechoslovakia he played with me and carried me around everywhere... but that was pre-immigration, and things changed so much during that time.
We had just started getting to know one another before all of this tragic stuff started If anything, I had once associated a lot of resentment and bitterness with him. I was constantly reminded of all the times he asked if we could "move" a Jewish holiday because he already had plans with friends that night. Or move a birthday, aniversary, graduation celebration because it didn't fit in with his schedule. He missed countless birthdays, only putting a "sorry it's belated" card in the mail. In the mail. ( even though we live in the same city).And though there was always a little gift of money, and sometimes even a lot, I never felt a connection. I felt he was doing it because my mother expected him to - not because he really cared.
As of late I have tried to get past all of these things because he's my uncle, because it is important to my mother, and because we seemed to in fact have some things in common. And I'm getting older and starting to really realize that in families sometimes the younger person winds up being the bigger, more mature person.
But lately I'm not doing so well at it. And this time of need is exactly when I should be doing well at it and being there to support my mom. But there are things holding me back.
Anyhow, I think that is enough for part one. Check back tomorrow for part two. I'll talk more about the time right before he got sick and explain some of my more recent discoveries about our similarities, differences and why I think I'm pulling back.