Are we ever really known?

The photo is of my gloriously intelligent, gorgeous, gentle and quick-witted sister. She died in 2015. I’ve been thinking a lot about whether I truly knew her.

As a hospice nurse, I serve families and friends as they are saying goodbye to someone they care about. I cherish the time when one of my hospice patients is able to talk with me. We get people admitted to hospice so horribly late in their disease now, that I long for and miss these conversations. I have some questions and have learned how to ask them so their answers won’t entail a lot of energy or effort to answer.

One question that’s burning a hole in my head is this: “Do you think you were truly known by your family or loved ones? I mean really known?”

And do you know what most women say? “I don’t think so.” Then there’s a pause and they say a contraction of “You know. Everyone’s so busy. They have their own life. Busy, busy, busy.”

This breaks my heart but it’s also very freeing. Since someone is never going to really know us, then we can be who we want to be, right? It makes no difference in the end. Literally.

This reflection reminded me of when I sought counseling for our marriage that was breaking apart. The first question the counselor asked me was, “What is your greatest fear?” Sobbing, I immediately answered, “That our children won’t understand and not love me anymore.” Through his gentle questions and sex years of weekly sessions, I realized that my children have their own personal journey and the way they see me is their through their filters, their choice.

There is nothing I can do but be honest with myself.

My Self.

I encourage you to live a wide life, just in case it’s not a long life.

You are left with yourself and no one else. In that alone-ness, you can create a fun, kind, funny, compassionate, loving, humorous, delicious, wealthy, sensual, peaceful and meaningful life. Don’t wait.

Benita in her final weeks, love from Nina McKissock

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