I answer the phone and it's Sue's oldest, calling to tell me the grade he got on his Chemistry final. He did great, and I'm so excited for him. I tell him how proud I am of him. He tells me he couldn't wait to call to let me know. I feel a swell of pride followed swiftly by a wave of guilt.
I take her girls on an outing to Target. We are shopping specifically for some girly things. We laugh and joke. My heart feels so full of pride and I think, "these girls of mine are so awesome!" A stab of guilt hits as I realize I thought the word "mine".
I talk about next year with her oldest. He will be a high school senior. I've offered to host his graduation party. I'm so excited to do it and feel honored that I get to do it. Then the guilt creeps in.
Her second oldest comes to me after a dinner I've made. He gives me a hug. This kid is not usually a hugger. He thanks me for cooking for him. I think about what an impressive young man he is becoming, right before my eyes. The guilt hits hard enough that I need to sit down.
I'm wrestling with the idea that I'm stealing her life. I'm taking these moments, which rightfully belong to her, and snatching them up.
I know this sounds insane.
These are moments she can't have. I'm not taking anything from her.
Then why do I feel like this?
What I'm dealing with here is something my friend calls "false guilt". She tells me that the false guilt lies to me. It whispers to me that I'm not allowed to enjoy her moments. That somehow, if I didn't steal these moments from her, she could be here and have them for herself.
But, no. No. She can't have these moments. I would step back and let her have every single precious one if it meant she could be here. I would never steal what is hers. And I know her so well. She would tell me, "Take them! Take all of them! You are welcome to every happy moment you can grab!"
She was always good about sharing.
So I would like to give a message to the false guilt that likes to plague me: My sister would say that I can have these moments, so I'm taking them. They make my life so much richer. They make me miss her just a little bit less. I've already lost all future moments with her, so I refuse to allow you to make me miss out on anything else.
I'm not listening to you anymore.