I just added a new post to Unpacking Faith. It’s been quite some time since I’ve given any deliberate thought to where I’m going along that journey. But alas, I’ve added some thoughts about where I am on that stuff.
On to this post…
The last couple of weeks have been huge for me as far as family goes. My fam has been through some turmoil in the last year. I lost an aunt and an uncle (husband and wife) within 39 days of each other this time last year. And this month I lost an aunt and a cousin (stepmother and stepdaughter) within just about the same amount of time, the most recent death just last week. The losses have been hard for many. (ASIDE: I deal with death in a very bizarre way. I don’t even understand it myself. I almost have no reaction at all. I used to think that my feelings are there somewhere and that one day they will burst through to the surface…but I’m still waiting. There’s only one death that has affected me in any significant way, an ex-boyfriend, and it’s not even close to appropriate for this paragraph…so I’ll tell you about that at another time.) Anyway, the losses have been hard for many. Last year they were in my dad’s family, this year, my mom’s. And the weird thing is that on both sides of my family, they’ve drawn my generation closer together as a unit.
I’ve had the best year with my cousins on my dad’s side of the family. I gave them the chance to opt out of having their names posted, but since no one objected, I’ll start using them. We have IMed, text messaged, chatted on the phone, blogs, at girl’s nights, family functions, dance classes, snot fests, in hospital waiting rooms. We’ve laughed, cried and just bonded more in the last year than we have in 30 years! It’s amazing and insane all at the same time. I’ve had so much fun with them recently and it has left me wondering, “why haven’t we been doing this all along?!” As good as it feels to be closer now, I feel cheated. We’ve lost so much time we can never get back. And I find part of the explanation for this in what I’ve learned on the other side of the fam.
At my aunt’s funeral I had the first adult conversation I’ve ever really had with 2 of my first cousins who are only a few years older than me. The reason: the previous generation’s drama. What it all boils down to is that our parent’s ins and outs have left me confused about what was true about them, what was not. They thought I hated them. I thought they hated me. But when we just all got in the same room and talked, the solution to the mess became perfectly clear. We resolved to get to know each other on our own terms. And this is true of both sides of the family.
I think it’s an accurate statement that everybody’s fam has its share of f- – -ed up-ness. Mine is no exception, on either side (though arguably exceptional in the extent of f. up-ness.) There are secrets, shortcomings, failures, violations, trauma, struggles, disappointments, desertions, dilemmas and plain ole drama in every family. I have been tremendously encouraged by the willingness of mine recently to break the silence around it all. It hasn’t been easy. It’s been painful to dredge up old pain, learn things that cause new pain, and to hear how others have hurt and been hurt…and to hear how you have hurt others. But my GOD how can you hope for sanity if you don’t go through it?!?!
I think I’ve reached a point that borders on recklessness when it comes to truth-telling. But I am just so glad to have a space where people have ears to hear one another’s experiences… authentically, and not the cotton candy smoke we so easily blow up each others’…well, you know.
Has it solved anything? Changed anything? Anyone? I guess it remains to be seen. But I really feel like I not only have a family, but like we really are family. This is light years away from what I was feeling when I wrote this post. This was at a time when I dreaded being at a family function. I actually find myself looking forward to them now. (I even hosted Mother’s Day and Father’s Day at my place this year.) But nothing beats the informals. They have been off the chain. We have to do another one soon ladies! I’m sworn to secrecy about our girl’s nights but they have been so much fun. Let’s get to planning, eh?
Ok that’s my piece on family! Candra, Kyla, Krista, Elita, Dani, Erin, Maryam…love you girls! Love the guys too: Rick, Elijah, Edmund. And you too Mainey! Love you, Nikki and Bridgit, Ant, Donna and Lisa.
Here’s to a generation with less drama! Here’s to loving each other where we are!
(I need to add a pic to this post. Dani, send me the group shot from last Saturday.)