today was the culmination of my beach adventure. my birthday inched closer, my perceptions of my relationships with people became more obscured, and my eyes didn’t seem to stop watering. it was a very emotional day, to say the least.
the final straw for me today was when i spoke with my little sister. i had been hoping she would come to the beach so i could spend some time with just her and, though she hadn’t confirmed previously that she’d be coming to see me, i knew she didn’t have anything going on and therefore had no justifiable reason not to come. only, she didn’t feel like driving over. and that hurt.
i wound up being too exhausted to drive back from the beach the 2 1/2 hours to gainesville by myself. my attempts to solicit someone to ride with me didn’t work quite the way i’d planned, so when i called my dad to ask him for directions to the highway, he suggested i just come to orlando. [i found out when i got here that my mom had been planning to drive to gainesville for my birthday tomorrow. in my 25 years, i think she’s only ever missed 2 birthdays. whoops.] so i drove the 45 minutes from the beach to my mom’s house and was entertained when my little sister’s boyfriend called me “katie.” that’s only really funny because he and i went to high school together. i had to take a minute to think about that again before i write the rest of this. that’s gonna be the only funny thing in the rest of this thing.
about 2 hours ago, i had the chance to talk with my little sister. her boyfriend had left and she was on her way out. she came over to say goodbye and i told her we needed to talk. we sat on the couch and i choked out words i’ve screamed in my head for years. i told her that i understood that she hadn’t said she’d come to the beach, but that it mattered to me. that it mattered that we had a relationship, because we’re family. that i’d drop anything in a heartbeat for her, because i love her and want amazing things for her. i told her how badly it hurts me when she doesn’t want to be part of my life. that i just want her to give a damn about me. that i need to know if that’s how it’s going to be from here on out, because if it is i can deal with that, i just need to be prepared. and she sat there, motionless, as i poured my heart out to her. i became vulnerable and showed my pain, hoping she’d see it and something would connect. hoping that maybe she just didn’t realize how much it matters to me that she’s part of my life. and then she said the five words that are the most painful thing i’ve heard in my adult life: you can’t make me care.
we sat on the couch for a little while after that, both very still. she wanted to leave and i wanted to shake her until she understood me. neither happened. eventually i got up and got ready for bed and she went out the garage door. my mom came and hugged me and told me not to take it personally. it’s hard not to take it personally though, someone you love that much telling you that they basically don’t care about you. my heart breaks a little more as i think about this conversation, this 5 minute conversation that could easily change the entire future of our relationship as sisters.
my sister is right though; i can’t make her care. it would be pointless, as she’s got free will and i have to be back in gainesville tomorrow. she can’t make me not care about her though. as much as it hurt to blurriedly look at her and see her staring back at me, that’s not enough to make me stop caring. she’s hurt. she’s broken. she needs Jesus. she needs people in her life who aren’t willing to just give up when she pushes away. she is the prodigal son.
i won’t see her again before i leave. she went off to stay at someone else’s house for the night and i’m not willing to just let this go. she needs to know my resolution. as i haven’t been able to utter 2 sentences today without breaking down in tears, i decided the best way to have this conversation was through a letter which i’ll be leaving on the counter for her when i leave in the morning. i’m going to type the letter here so that at any given point, any of you can hold me accountable for my words and help me check to make sure i’m loving my sister as Jesus loves us.
“i’ve been thinking a lot about what i said to you and what you said to me. the more i think about it, the more i realize that i’m not willing to give up on a relationship with you. i’m not willing to stop trying. this may seem stupid to you, but you’re my family. i love you. i want amazing things for you and i will continue to love you and want amazing things for you regardless of how hard you try to push me away. i realize this might mean i’m in store for more pain and rejection from you. i’m still not willing to quit. i just love you too much. and you can get mad at me, you can hate me, you can tell me that it’s your life but you won’t ever be able to push me so far away from you that i’ll stop loving you or trying to show you love. you matter too much to me. i can’t make you care, but you better believe you can’t make me stop caring about you.
i love you.”