17 April 2006

An Open Letter to My Family

Dear Family (my earthly family, that is),

Back in the day, we used to see one another often. At least twice a year. The aunts and uncles and cousins and little cousins all gathered together at Christmas time (not the actual day mind you, just time) and early August on Cape Cod for a Clam Bake. You were there for many of my major milestones ... I was there for many of yours; graduations, marriages, babies birthdays. We did them together. I looked up to my cousins and your children looked up to me, and my aunts and uncles and parents got to sit and talk and laugh indulgently at all of us. We all grew and learned from one another, leaned on one another in some odd familial sort of way. When I was with you, the connection was deeper than any I'll have with anyone else.

Then came the Clambake in 1999. That year your mother (my father's sister) turned 80. It was to be a family celebration as the Clambake often is. But there was (on the side) a dispute between your brother and my brother over a business issue. When my brother who had always been a welcome member of our great, large wonderful family before, arrived, to extend good wishes to his aunt, he was turned away.

In many ways that was the blackest day of my life. And so, it would seem, I've led a charmed life if that's the worst thing that's ever happened. But I thought our family had more grace and tolerance than that. I know our grandfather did and so did our grandmother. I was not asked to leave, but neither could I stay. I was put in the worst of all middle positions. I couldn't stay ... I couldn't go. So I left, because it was easier to mollify my mother than live with the tension. Although I've born the tension and the terrible wounds of that day ever since. And our great, warm wonderful family has never been the same again.

I wonder sometimes if anyone else bears these wounds. Is there a hole at the family gatherings? No one ever speaks of that day. I am the bearer of emotions for my immediate family, must I also bear them for the greater family too. So now ... 7 years later I find I'm carrying this burden for everyone else. This is not mine. The dispute was not mine. The Clambake/birthday was not mine. None of this is mine. I need to put it down now.

Lady of Light ....

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