|PJ last Thanksgiving|
I stopped what I was doing and got on the phone, learning that my sister Norma Jean had decided to fly to Texas to be with the family during this time. I decided to stay put until I learned more. This morning PJ was subjected to a cardiac catheterization to find the extent of the damage. She already had several stents that have been in place for years. The procedure found the stents to be occluded, and that there is nothing further than can be done surgically. Her heart was apparently not significantly damaged by the heart attack; she just doesn't have much circulation left. She's diabetic, which has probably contributed to her condition. So, the story is that she is out of the woods, in terms of being past a critical phase and out of the unknown.
We will all die someday, but it's been more than fifty years that all six of us, my siblings, have shared the planet together, and the illness or loss of any one of us will change our relationship to all of the others. We were together to celebrate Thanksgiving this past year, as well as to mark my seventieth birthday and our youngest sister Fia's fiftieth. Almost exactly twenty years separate oldest to youngest. I was seven when PJ was born.
I've never been close to PJ, really. Norma Jean and I were two years apart, and PJ was just too young to join in our play. I left home at 18 and she was only 11. My childhood memories hold little recollection of PJ. And then she grew up and got married and had kids. I would see them when I went home to visit my parents, along with my other younger siblings. I was more like an aunt than a sister, and I was going through my own tribulations. We saw each other at holidays, family gatherings, and memorial services. But the shock of thinking of PJ being so ill has propelled me into another kind of understanding: that she is very important to me. I need to let her know this, so here I go.
PJ, you and I have never known how to communicate intellectually. We seem to rub each other the wrong way. But I do know we connect heart to heart, deep inside the genetic makeup we share. You remind me of Mama sometimes, and you sometimes smile in a way that resonates very deeply within me. I am sorry for the times when I have been impatient with you. I wish I could sit and laugh with you at the silly things that have kept us apart. I would like to release the past and start a fresh page. Are you willing?
There, I did it. PJ will be treated with medication and hopefully will be stabilized for the near future, but it is my fervent wish that we are able to see each other again and have a big bear hug. Nobody knows what the future holds, and all I can do is hope.