Writing from the Heart: Make up now

Don’t wait and let bad feelings fester between yourself and someone you love.


Here’s why you have to make up with your siblings. Right before my sister died, we had the biggest fight we had ever had. I thought, She’s gonna die, and we’re gonna not be speaking.

Here it is two years later, and even though I can’t remember what the fight was about, I know it was huge, and that she took her time accepting my apology. But thank God she finally melted, and we fell into each other’s arms and cried.

Anyway, today while walking in the woods, I smelled that mixture of dead leaves decomposing and new life buds on the trees, daffodils already gone. Just the beginning of spring, where March wouldn’t let go and pass the torch, and April didn’t want to play ball.

All of a sudden I saw a crinkled-up piece of cellophane, and it looked just like the wrapping of the shortbread cookie of my youth, Lorna Doones. My husband would have picked up the piece of trash. All I did was take a deep dive into a memory of my father flipping out over the fact that the whole bag of cookies was gone. Who ate the last one? I could hear him yelling. I remember I lied, and said, I did, Daddy. I always tried to protect my sister, whose weight had become a thing the two of them argued over.

The more I thought about it, the more I wasn’t sure if I actually had confessed to eating the last cookie, or if I was glad she was getting yelled at, and not me. Now I was wondering if he was upset because of the calories or the money, or that we would spoil our dinner.

That was always our mother’s big line. Don’t eat before dinner. You’ll spoil your appetite. That would be the kind of thing my sister and I would be cracking up over now.

I thought … I will call her and ask, 1) Did Daddy really flip out over the Lorna Doones? And 2) Did I step up for you? And 3) Do you remember how they always said, Don’t eat, it will spoil your appetite?

There I was in the woods with an entire theater piece going on in my head, and then the shard ripped across my heart. I can’t call her. She’s dead.

So not only are we not going to have the kinds of laughs we had as adults, over our parents and all our stupid early childhood stuff, but I also am not going to get answers. Because no one else can corroborate. No one has the shared memories we have. Who will remind me of who I used to be? Who will finish my sentences with the exact right words?

There are so many things that still sting, like a few weeks ago when I was making Indian pudding. The first time I ever tasted that delight, it was 1963 in Maine, visiting my newly married sister, and she was cooking the pudding on a wood stove. A wood stove! Whoever heard of such a thing? We grew up in suburbia, with wall-to-wall carpeting. Now she was living in a funky farmhouse with the intoxicating smell of burning wood. Did she add vanilla or almond extract? I want to call her. But I …

Like how our parents made us wait an hour after eating before they’d let us so much as dip a toe into the water’s edge, let alone swim. Everyone in the world was splashing, jumping, screaming for joy, while we sat on our stupid towels, waiting, waiting, waiting. An hour to a 9-year-old is a lifetime.

You know how badly I want to call you-know-who and bitch and moan together and talk about how differently we did our kids. We would say almost in unison, They did the best they could. And then admit there were some “bests,” like when our father would come home from work and say, “How was school? Did you walk or take your lunch?” And we would all crack up.

Yes, I want to talk to my sis. But dammit …

This morning my friend Ray called, and was complaining about his sister, whom he hasn’t spoken to in three years.

I get it. She was awful to him. But I know if my sister and I hadn’t resolved our thing, my heart would have two gashes.

I’m not saying it’s easy. But I know people who have done it. And they will tell you it takes work. So if you are in a similar situation with a sibling, Dr. Aronie says, Do the work.

My sister would say, If you don’t get it done this lifetime, you’ll be back.

I say, Don’t count on it.

Do it now.