The night that our father died, I watched my brother Grant sit on the couch next to our dad’s hospice bed and pull our stepmother over to him. He held her while she sat there, her head resting on him, exhausted and too numb still for the grieve to fully sink in. It was one of the most tender acts I’ve ever seen Grant perform and, given the history of the Garcia family to my stepmother, it was a stunning gesture that I’ve never forgotten.
For me, she was the first person with the title of “mother” that ever made me feel as if I actually had one, had a mother. We had a long, complicated, and often difficult journey together and for the past year and a half, we have not been in each other’s lives for a variety of reasons. But I’ve never forgotten that she made me feel loveable and wanted and as if I deserved to be alive at a time when things could have gone very very wrong for me.
Sheryl was, like any family member I grew up with, complicated. She was the first person to help me out of a traumatic situation when I was a teenager, even though her approach was itself problematic. Decades later, she was my father’s hospice nurse and then stayed on to live with my stepmother after he passed. Both of which were incredible gifts and for which I will always be grateful.