Here’s what it said:
I’ve been meaning to write you for a long while, and finally have the time/right thoughts.
I recommend you read this this when you have some downtime, it’s not anything urgent but might not be material for a quick look from your phone =)
This has been a tough time for you, I know. You’ve got quite a bit going on, and are doing an admirable job of holding it all together. It can’t be easy, and the challenge of living with great joy and suffering is something that takes practice. I can’t say I’ve handled it particularly well the last year. But the waves have their own shape and content and sometimes we simply have to see them through.
First of all, I want to say I’m sorry you lost mom. I know that might seem like a funny thing to say, considering you are my sister, but I recognize that the relationship you had with her was unique and a bond that can’t be replicated. I’m so very sorry, it hurts me a great deal to watch you struggle with it and I know from my own experience that that struggle and suffering is in every moment, behind all of the events, and thoughts, and strands of our lives.
I do want to reaffirm that what you did for her while she was alive matters. The trips to Sonic to get a milkshake, picking her up after classes all those years at UNM, and all the help and support that both you and your husband gave her mattered, especially what you did specifically.
It’s also worth noting that you provided her with honesty when it mattered most. Being the revolutionary person that she was, mom valued the truth. She always wanted to know what her options were and wanted to tell it like it was. In that way you gave her one of the most important gifts that you could have. I know that must have been difficult.
The next thing is hard for me to say, because I can’t say it without crying. I’m willing to bet that the last year has been filled with a weird mix of joy and suffering, and I don’t know the nature of your suffering, but I want you to know that we both have mom’s forgiveness for all the things we wish we could have done better or differently. Mom was a person of great lovingkindness (to borrow from the Buddhists) and she understood a great deal that most people simply overlook.
I’ve punished myself a great deal in this last year since mom died. I’ve worked too much, and blamed myself for many things I had no control over. I imagine maybe you’ve also tried to work the grief out in your own ways, perhaps trying to hold it back when it came up as it so often does in the wrong place and at the wrong time. There will always be an empty space in our lives where mom used to reside, and the truth is there’s not much we can do about that. But I hope you’ll forgive yourself for your failures, perceived or real. Contrary to the lessons of modern culture, it is not when we shut the world and other people out that we become stronger. It is when we allow ourselves to be changed, to hope, to dream, to fail, to grieve, that we become better and stronger in our humanity.
The other thing I want you to know is that your work, not just in the traditional sense of your job but your work as a human, has been and continues to be exceptional. I can see clearly that you are a truly extraordinary mother, wife, nurse, and person. It probably doesn’t get affirmed as much as it should, so I wanted to tell you that I admire your efforts in all of those roles. I hope, also, that you will make sure to take good care of yourself, even if that just means an extra 20 minutes before work a couple times a week to listen to relaxing music in your car. Often it is the little things that we do for ourselves that make all the difference, especially when you are the giving type of person which let’s be honest we both inherited from mom =)
Well that’s about all I have for this transmission,
With love, your brother,