Getting Close

Sank Into

Today, the sun massaged my shoulders
until my whole spine sank into my pelvis.
Then I understood.

My sister didn’t want to talk with me
about her continued choices for coping
with breast cancer or
about anything
you know.
No thanks, I don’t need any help, she said.
Mom offered too.
I’ve got my family here.
Just keep it simple. Okay?

Mother’s claptrap about this
having nothing to do with me
is completely true
and utterly false.
It’s about more than health.
It’s about relationships and
naming those included or excluded and
being fearful, vulnerable and
getting close
too close.

You see,
my sister and I share an hereditary disease,
a societal malaise,
a mean-weird upbringing and
other stuff beyond DNA.
But she had this malignant hideousness and
she pulled away because she
could not tolerate hearing one gasp,
one sharp silence, one more loving story,
dreading always a poignant moment
when mother stirred the emotional soup or
I made everyone cranky with logic.

I can’t fault her for understanding
who the hell I am
and conserving her energy to deal with
ninety-five commands and demands
endless suggestions and
gee whiz I saw on Oprah last week
yadda yadda and
fifteen articles in the mail and on the Internet
so many someones know would make her feel better
when a nap would do the trick and
all those looks of screwed-up compassion and
the pauses in conversation when
she rounded a corner in her office and
the weariness she felt
just living moment to moment
with a teenager learning about personal power and
two nearly-thirty kids a husband a job
a mother who’s going blind, is mentally ill and
can be vicious
a sister who is damn intense and
cannot does not will not work well with mother and
oh shit did she remember to take that new medicine and
why is her left armpit aching and
is that scar tissue from the surgery or a new lump and
is the kid’s toilet stopped up again and
doesn’t the dog have a vet appointment today.

I thought we had weathered the worst,
we who survived our rage-scarred childhood,
individually naïve sexual revolutions,
death, divorce, meaningless jobs, poverty,
loss of hope, endless lies, fearsome surgeries,
chronic illness, and damaged dreams.
Yesterday, she told me
she’d chosen to hide herself from me
for forty years or
was it fifty years?
This solidifies that which I’ve suspected:
we haven’t lived in overlapping realities
for a very long time and
we have devolved into intimate strangers.
Well-scripted greeting-card moments,
instead of tender and real conversation,
shall serve as our communication.
She’s relieved and I grieve
knowing this is simply the way it is.

I never wanted to learn these vaunted truths:
great grief becomes tedious,
loss is all there is after a point,
we never really know another person and
freedom comes with high costs.

Good for her.
Ouch for me.
Good for me,
I guess.

© 2014, Jeanne Treadway


8 thoughts on “Getting Close

  1. WordPress needs more categories. Neruda is a good place to begin. 24 songs of love… and a lament. Your naked scarification of childhood wounds is arresting and startling, and deserves a re-classification. Me and Pablo think so, anyway.


  2. Wow~za, so beautiful, deep and heartfelt. Crafted and raw, like the magnificence of ocean-pounded rocks. Beauty everywhere, way more than skin deep. I want to be there at that tea party between sisters, and hold your hands ***


  3. This is brilliant Jet…and relevant too. Brings back my poor sister dying of breast cancer…and how she never told us she knew from the start , it was fatal. Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Nightmare. Your writing is so lucid..pertinent. kristine


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