This I Believe

Claudie - Sacramento, California
Entered on May 28, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in reconciliation.

My stepmother passed away recently. For a person who shared a very short but significant part of my developmental life, her passing has left an emptiness in me, a sadness in knowing that I had lost so much time being angry and hurt because of her and yet I was eventually given the opportunity to show my caring and love for her.

It was cancer that brought me back to her after almost 20 years away and it was the resurgence of the cancer that we all thought she had conquered after two years of cancer therapy that took her away from me again, this time for good.

Though I mourn her passing, I am grateful that I was able to help with her treatment, to send her words of encouragement long distance from my cell phone, to remove the weight of our anger of each other from her shoulders and instead bring a smile to her face that I could hear whenever I called to check in on her.

Now that she has been buried and all the traditional ceremonies are over, I ponder the fact that my husband spurred me on towards our reconciliation that had been made ever more difficult with the passing of time and distance, she living in Kenya, me living in California.

When I first contacted my stepmother after finding out she was ill I was surprised she even agreed to speak with me. Her only question to me after I had inquired about her illness was whether I really cared. My simple ‘yes’ was initially not enough for her. It was when I told her she was after all my family, and that I would do what ever I could to help that surprised and finally opened her up to me. To be honest, during the course of our talk my only concern, my only worry was whether or not she was in pain or dying.

My husband and I went to Kenya soon after this. He for the first time, meeting that side of my family, me for the first time in 20 plus years. It was a transformative trip all around. I cried a lot, but it was good. Good for me, my stepmother, my father, and my husband. By the time we got there she had had a mastectomy and was in recovery. By the time we left we had laid to rest our anger, and our feelings of distrust. I could easily say that my stepmother reconciled with me so she could get my help, but she was not that kind of woman. She was proud and would have rather sent me off packing had it not been for the simple fact that I told her I sincerely cared.

So yes I believe in reconciliation. The given opportunity to slough off bad feelings and replace them with caring, love and concern. For in allowing me to care she allowed me to show her love. Thus, I believe in reconciliation.