When I began this blog, it was a way to vent about my illness. Today, with your patience, I am going to use it to vent on a more personal level.
I grew up with some friends back in my birth land, a brother and sister, from very early. I was six, the brother was four and the sister was two. Let’s call them Jack and Jill.
They lived around the block from me and I met them one day riding my bike in the neighborhood. They were in a kiddie pool in their front yard and I stopped to say hello. They in turn splashed me with water and thus a very long friendship began.
Jack and I were best friends, always together, basically living between each other’s houses, riding our bikes around the neighborhood and in the nearby public access botanical gardens, up and down the hills, between the flowering beds, much to the chagrin of the caretakers. Jill was in the background, being the annoying little sister, but we played with her when we were at Jack’s house.
Jack and I went to different elementary schools and high schools, but we remained best friends, always hanging out after school.
Then when I was about 16, Jack 14, we started hanging out with different people, but we remained friends, although not as close as we were before and we slowly grew apart. At that time, Jill introduced me to her group of friends and I started to hang out with them, and in turn, Jill, who I always considered to be my little sister, and I hung out basically every da. My family used to tease me and say that Jill was in love with me, but I only saw her as my little sister.
Three of the guys in Jill’s group of friends and I hit it off really well and we started to hang out together more and more and eventually Jill went her way with a new group of friends, but we stayed friends.
When I was 19 I met my wife and all my concentration went to her and all my other friends at the same time started to develop their own relationships.
Although we did keep in touch, Jack, Jill and I didn’t hang out together. I developed new friends at work with whom I would go to clubs with etc. Life was different, but I always made sure to keep in touch with them. We always made sure to get together a couple of times a year.
Around when I was 23, Jack moved out of the country and we kept in touch. Jack was not much of a letter writer and so I would always make the effort to keep the lines of communication open. Jill and I also kept in touch and I would go see her and her parents every now and again.
A year later, I too moved. My wife and I moved to the US and I kept the lines of communication open with Jack and Jill, the effort always seeming to be more on my part. Five years later my wife and I went back to our birth land to get married and I asked Jack to be my best man. He happily agreed and flew back to stand next to me at the aisle.
It was only at my wedding reception that when I saw a depressed Jill sitting alone at her family’s table with the saddest look in her eyes, looking at my wife and I, that it hit me what everyone was seeing what I never saw. Jill was in love, with me. It was weird, uncomfortable, and something I did not want to face. She was my little sister to me, nothing more. I avoided her the rest of the reception.
We all saw each other a couple more times and I came back home, to the US. The next year my wife and I went back for a niece’s wedding and we met up again with Jack and Jill, and this time Jill openly told me in front of my wife that she thought that eventually she and I would marry. Her mother agreed that she too thought this. I apparently was the only one that had no idea everyone else had made these plans for my future. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable.
My wife and I returned home to the US, and that would be the last time I would ever set foot in my birth country or see Jack and Jill again. That was fourteen years ago, and over the years I tried to keep in touch with Jack, more than Jill. What I saw as a brother/sister relationship with Jill, she saw as something else. Jill has never married to this day, and people tell me that she has never gotten over me, which in reality says a lot to me as there was never anything between Jill and I, other than what was in her head.
I tried again keeping up communication with Jack over the years, but Jack never attempted to respond. I did call Jill for her birthday when she turned forty, six years ago, and somehow the conversation went to how my she and my wife have many parallels, and I chose my wife over her. There was never a choice to be made. She was my little sister, my wife was and is my life. My wife still teases me that if she hadn’t come into my life I would have married Jill. It was never a possibility for me.
After that conversation I cut off my communication with Jill and I gave up on Jack. They never tried to keep up communication with me either. They know nothing of my journey with sarcoidosis, heart failure and pulmonary hypertension. Over the years I would get bits of info on both of them from mutual friends. Jack eventually married and got divorced a few years later, but Jill never married.
A few weeks ago, my sister in law ran into Jack and Jill and as I my sister in law put it, they were very excited to hear news of me and gave her their email addresses to give to me so that I could get in touch with them.
When my sister in law told me that, I got peeved. Why should I be the one after all of these years to make contact? Why should I be the one that must email them?! I wasn’t going to. Not again. But then I thought that if I never emailed, it would look as if my sister in law never passed on the message, so I emailed, reluctantly, just so they would know the message was passed on.
First I emailed Jack a short note to say that I got the email address from my sister in law, and that he could write me to let me know how he was. To Jill I pretty much wrote the same, but shorter. Days passed, and no surprise, no word from Jack. Then a day or two later I got a reply from Jill. Here’s how her email went.
How are you and your wife?
The exact reason I did not want to write first was exactly what happened. A nonchalant reply. I contemplated sending a email on how fed up I was with this whole communications game, and then I thought, I just won’t answer. But that would be childish. So, I replied the same.
We are well.
Nothing more nothing less.
So, my question to my readers is this, How would you have handled this? Would you have replied with a letter telling her to bug off, just not answer or do as I did?