As I start this post, I am very much aware that I don't quite know where I'm going with it. I suppose that I am doing what I have always done...working out my emotions through writing.
Last year, my great-grandmother died. She was 99 years old. She always had an important place in my life and the lives of my sisters. My parents made sure of it, and for that, I am eternally grateful. My cousins missed out on her goodness, her love, her humor, and her influence. I consider myself lucky that I did not.
She was not a member of the Church.
Last week was the one year anniversary of her death. My mom arranged for my great-grandma's temple work to be completed. My parents and my grandma went to St. George, where both my sisters live, and they all participated. There was an ordinance for everyone. My mom was telling me about it and who did what and what happened and all that. I had a somewhat difficult time listening, finding myself distracted. I wondered about what my great-grandmother was thinking of all of it. I wondered what they told my grandma about why I wasn't participating. I wondered about what my sisters and their husbands thought about my absence, if they noticed (which is selfish I suppose, but relevant...at least, to me). When they were going into the endowment session, my mom had to go ahead with my grandma, who has problems with her knees. She was saving a place for each of my sisters. When someone asked if they could sit next to her, she relied that she "had two daughters coming still."
Something about that struck me. Two daughters.
My mom talked about when they finished the session and were there in the celestial room. I found myself feeling sad in a way. To clarify, it was my decision to not be there, and it's a decision I'm okay with. I didn't renew my temple recommend when I was being good, and they wouldn't issue me one now anyway. And that doesn't hurt my feelings. But I feel like I missed out on something. Maybe I just miss being with my family, when it was still easy to be a family. And since typing that just brought tears to my eyes, I'm going to say that's probably a very valid thought.
I think I also feel sad because I think my mom gets sad too. I know that religion is so important to her and my dad. Everything in their life revolves around the centerpoint of being a Latter-Day Saint, and being a faithful Latter-Day Saint at that. I'm sure that when they were all there in the celestial room of the St. George temple, mom noticed my absence. I wonder if part of her feels that is any indication of how the eternities will be. If she does, I think I can say with some degree of confidence that it is a dreadful thought for her to have. And that makes me sad.
It has never been my intention to make my mom sad, or my dad distant, or my sisters disappointed. It has never been my desire to remove myself from their lives, or to remove them from mine. But it's not easy right now. I miss them. I miss being loved by them. Not that I think they don't love me, but it feels different. I feel like they're in the "love the sinner, hate the sin" place, and that leaves room to doubt the love they do give, like it's an conditional love that's only given because they have to, not because they want to. I don't know if that makes sense or not. I wish I could describe it better.
I find myself in that place of believing what I have to offer won't be good enough. I feel like my parents are so proud of my sisters, so happy with how their lives are, so content with how they raised them to be the wonderful and faithful daughters, wives, and mothers that they are. I envy them for making mom and dad proud. I don't feel like I do. Will they always be disappointed? Will it ever be easy to be a family again?
I find myself frustrated, because at this very moment I am sitting next to a wonderful woman too, and they may never know that. Will they ever open their hearts to the possibility of having four daughters instead of three? Or will it be easier to acknowledge two daughters instead of three?
I don't know.
Here's what I do know...I don't think much about the afterlife. I don't worry about my fate. I have total and complete faith in an omnicient, loving God. I am totally and completely comfortable with the knowledge that He and I will talk about the things that happen in this life. He will fill in the blanks, He will know the details, and He will have the final say in where my soul will reside. And I know He won't make a mistake. Upstairs, downstairs, wherever, I'll end exactly where I am supposed to. And I'm good with that. All I can do is the best I can. I have to be the best I can. And to be the best I can, I can't limit who I am.
I can only hope and pray that someday, my family will find some small piece of understanding about me, and the pain that all of us feel will ease.