Family Matters

Hollywood and Hallmark work hard to sell us the perfect family. Maybe not so much now as in the 50s-70s. The recently ended fabulous show “Parenthood”certainly addressed just about every challenge in family relationships there could be. Remember, however, Donna Reed, Brady Bunch, Partridge Family and so on.
In recent news stories some of the actors of these picture perfect families turn out to have committed serious crimes, child molestation, for example. Real people played those fantasy roles.
Our own families can be by stages annoying, heartbreaking, wonderful and supportive and the people in them our friends, our adversaries and sometimes totally confusing. How would Sigmund Freud have made a name for himself if real families were like a Hallmark card?
One of the challenges when a family member dies, is that whether or not you lived close by, were speaking frequently or hadn’t in years, still a conversation was ongoing between you, as much as the shared genes that create the blood ties.
Suddenly that conversation stops in mid sentence. No matter how hard you worked to say it all, clarify and tie up any loose ends or misunderstandings, death interrupts.
You go through the belongings of this loved one and the conversation flows in your mind. You find this or that odd thing or you read how the will was written at an historic time perhaps no longer relevant. Questions brim in your heart. What was this keep sake she hung onto? Why did he get married again? Why didn’t he save that object a relative created? So many questions and heartbreaks. Along with many good memories and the portion of grief where we idealize the person who passed, come irritating stories and hurtful ones for many of us. Eventually you come to a place where you have to decide if you can leave it, this conversation with the mixture of pain and goodness, and move on into your own life imperfect though it may be.

Every human being is a conglomeration of good, bad, indifferent and meaningful and meaningless incomprehensible ties. It does not mean the one left behind going through the clothes and letters was loved any less.
We have a strange opportunity after someone dies to get to know that person as a person, a human being who had a whole separate secret life, hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations. Yeah, maybe you knew some of it because maybe your dad confided in you or maybe you and your cousin were best friends, but going through the detritus left behind a life lived is a strange archaeology. In its way it is as difficult as holding someone, wiping their face, and comforting their pain while they die.
So, at some point you realize you are still alive. Yep, you lost someone and it felt like a stab in the heart. But you have this life of yours and it becomes harder and harder to remember what your mom or dad or grandma said or to recall the sound of their voice, what they looked like outside of a photo…and having a long term conversation with a dead person in lieu of progressing into your life, imperfections, pains and all is, in my opinion, not the best choice.
Some memories of events will always hurt. Some past actions will always have an impact on you. We all carry scars. They are called ” experience.” So in conclusion I believe it worth stepping onto the path that says “Live. You were loved.”


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