Lost in RejectionComplex Family Reunion
In the year of magical thinking, one lives by the conviction that love is impregnable and that the very act of mothering sanctifies mothers. A belief that they, mothers, are oracles, casting unspoken but irrevocable covenants into the air, sealing forever the unblemished sanctuary that we call home. Then arrives a Saturday, banal in all its preliminaries, that savages these certainties and reduces them to folly.
The morning dawned not with any prophetic weight but with the smells of eggs and toast, as innocuous as any other Saturday. Aunt Betty, ever the custodian of family secrets, told me only that my mother was “occupied.” so I waited as it seemed all daughters do.
Last night’s tableau reconvened, inexplicably unchanged yet irrevocably altered. The woman I confronted was technically my mother, but the shorthand between us had gone, leaving behind a cipher. A woman mapped out in the contours of my face but unfamiliar in every other sense, a variable unaccounted for in the equation of my life.
Questions circled my mind, vultures around carrion. Why had no one told me of her life or the sister who now surfaced unbidden into my narrative? The day’s date read 1964, yet my memories were locked in the vault of 1954 — the last time I had seen her when I was just a child of four.
Then, as noon threw its harsh light onto the scene, she materialized, leading my sister Jennifer and another — a new sister, Monica, aged two. Jennifer, now eleven, existed in the lacunae of my memory as an infant barely a year old. My mother suggested a walk, an invitation not so much into her life but through the uncharted terrain of my fragmented sisterhood.
Jennifer and I walked, pavements met our steps with unflinching rigidity, a silent counterpoint to the tentative choreography of our conversation. My sister handed me a letter written to me that morning, she said; the paper, worn and slightly crumpled, bore her handwriting — a chaotic collection of lines and curves, a language almost indecipherable, but the weight of it was unequivocal.
As I attempted to decode the labyrinth of ink that had sprung from her mind, it occurred to me then that Jennifer inhabited a realm distinct from mine. Her landscape was not a panorama of endless horizons and unlocked doors; it was a topography marked by barriers insurmountable, by walls so opaque she could neither…