Keeping My Distance


Tonight, I received a call from my sister. She almost never calls me unsolicited. So I was very happy when she just stated immediately why she called…“Mom and Dad aged a lot. They came back from Florida seeming much older than when they left.”

She would not answer me when I asked what was wrong. She would not be forthcoming. I asked her flat-out about my father having been in the hospital. I was glad that my sister-in-law saw fit to tell me, even though she only found out after the fact.  My sister wouldn’t answer. She said, “I don’t want the day to come when there is not any time left to do something differently. Time runs out.” She said she had seen it too many times herself.

What am I supposed to do with that information? What—am I supposed to go running back to them for more abuse and unpredictable interactions? Is there something left unsaid? I don’t think so. I love them and wish them well. I want them to have a life of nachas from their family, and to be healthy, well, and satisfied. And if I were to do something for them, what would it be? What would it look like?

Hi, I’m here. I forgive you for being awful?  No. I have already forgiven them.

Hi, I’m here to be the doting and loving daughter, because although you have caused emotional and physical abuse, I am coming back for more? I just don’t want more of their type of love. I can give them my own from a distance.

What a horrible double standard we espouse in our community about child abuse—child abuse that has gone on for over 40 years.

What would the suggestion be to a woman who was married to her childhood sweetheart? Say he turned out to be an abusive person; unpredictable, who took all kinds of advantage of their relationship. She left him but never divorced him. If he were looking aged and infirm, would her family and friends want her to go back to him? Would they encourage her to go back to the relationship for his wellbeing, or to make him feel better about what had happened? Isn’t it better for her to love him from afar than to re-enter that relationship? Would a sibling tell her to return to him?

I am grateful to my sister for letting me know how much older they seem. I care about them and only want what is best for them. I sincerely hope HKB”H blesses them with a long and healthy life. It should be one filled with nachas and joy from their family. They should be free from worry and enjoy the fruit of all their labor. They were wonderful children to their parents, and have given much tzeddakah and dedication to the community. I hope they are able to enjoy their days and years.

I think about them daily. Theirs are the values to which I set my moral compass. Theirs are the examples of chessed and kindness I wish to emulate. I did not separate from them on whim or callously, and I still want to be certain they are well. The decision has cost me relationships with other family members who cannot escape the codependence, the iron fist of the forked tongue, or the showering of gifts from the open checkbook.

I have chosen life, safety, and love from afar. Something so many fail to understand.

Sending them love from where it’s safe,

A loving daughter

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