‘Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.’ Edna Buchanan said that. I can only assume the implication is that the relatives we’re stuck with wouldn’t be the ones we’d pick if given the option. On some days, I could see myself choosing friends over family, but in the end, I believe I’d take the parents and siblings I’ve got. Among this motley crew, the love is hard-earned and runs deep. We started small then divided by divorce and multiplied through remarriage, becoming a Modern Family before it was trendy. Actually, it was more like The Brady Bunch. From hell. Three parents, two brothers and seven sisters, consisting of steps, halves and wholes, round out my nuclear family; every one unique and each one, extraordinary. A complicated blend, the reciprocity is messy and even volatile—there’s been no lack of drama in 38 years. But in the hotbed of familial relationship, conditions are ripe to learn life lessons that just don’t come any other way. Lessons on love, forgiveness, redemption and transformation.
Flying over New Mexico on my way to Phoenix, I peer through the airplane’s small window and take in the vastness of the red rocks below. I’m going home, to the funeral of my oldest brother’s son.Read More
She’d say, “oh, ohohohoh I know the sun must set to rise.
“Paradise” by Coldplay
~For Richard, Heidi and Gabriel~
It was Sunday afternoon. The weekend that seemed to stretch out enticingly before me on Friday was, for all intents and purposes, over. I sat on the couch, mindlessly surfing Facebook and playing Angry Birds. I had what we call the ‘Sunday blues;’ that restless dissatisfaction that strikes around 5:00 p.m. along with the realization that my vision of a weekend filled with relaxation and leisure . . . well, it’s just not gonna materialize. This happens frequently. My days get filled with grocery shopping, running kids to activities, projects at home, work issues, and other mundane tasks and my fun gets relegated to Saturday night after the kids go to bed, but by then I’m so beat I pass out halfway through a movie.
I felt a coming shift in the weather foretold by a pounding headache that stormed my skull. Sitting alone I looked out the window at the gathering clouds. Malaise settled in as I thought with a sigh how the girls would be home shortly. I’d have to get up from this couch to start the nighttime routine; wrangle up dinner, corral kids into the shower and herd them to bed. I’d go through Friday folders (Sunday night folders?) and look ahead to everyone’s schedules, gearing up for another busy week.
But that was all before I got the news that my brother-in-law had died. Just 45 minutes earlier, while I was lamenting the end of the weekend, he had taken his last breath and given up the battle he’d waged to the finish. He and my sister were separated, but in the end, their differences didn’t matter. The strife and tension between them healed spontaneously on his journey from this plane to the next. When cancer took over his body, she took him into her home and tended to his dying. In the process she found forgiveness and focused on creating lasting memories for her son, their son. He is seven, my nephew; much too young to lose his father. And his father, much too young to lose his life.Read More