I believe in the strength and power of FAMILY. No matter how dysfunctional, smothering, cold, or loving that family is, it holds a power over each and every one of us that cannot ever be completely broken, severed or changed. At times this thought is somewhat harrowing. However, I find that more times than naught, it is a comfort and a joy.
As every family ages it begins to experience losses of those close. A grandparent, father, sibling, mother, in-law, close aunt and/or uncle. It starts to change the relationship dynamic within that family. In my own family, we lost our mother first. She was the center and glue of our family. The “rose window” of each and every day, ordinary or special. We knew we were all in trouble, the five siblings and the father, who became and remained a sixth sibling adding to the unstable foundation of the family. When, many years later, our father died, we were all somewhat veering off in different directions with no compass. I learned that no matter how old you get, it is difficult to be an orphan.
Oddly enough things settled down in our family and then the most major event happened. We lost a sibling. One of US. It is expected that grandparents and then parents would die. After all, they are older and such is the circle of life. However when one of the siblings suddenly and unexpectedly die, every facet of life becomes off-balance.
Now, our parents always taught us that no matter what happens in life, you will always have your family. In most cases that has been true. But in the case of losing our eldest sibling, it has so truly devastated each one of us in different ways, that being together is something none of us can do so easily. There has been guilt for things not said or settled; there has been the need to blame and point a finger; there has been left gaping raw-edged holes in lives that cannot mend. And yet, I know and I’m sure my remaining siblings know that a phone call will bring us all back together. Until then the dysfunctionality keeps us a drift and apart and lost in our own memories and pain.
Families may fight and some may even actually betray each other but it is so much easier to forgive and come back together. When people are so much alike they tend to grate on each other more often. When you can realize that that other person isn’t ever going to be who you want them to be; a surrogate mother, a more faithful person, whatever, then it is easier to just love them. With no other person in your life will this be easier with than with your family, your relatives, your blood.
In the end we love them, we fight with them, we are puzzled about them. We know that we can turn to them and always smile or cry. We know that when it is our turn to make that 2 a.m. phone call, they’ll answer and begin dressing at the same time to come to our side. For we are family. We are the strength that connects the world. We are peace and consolation in desolate times. We are joy we are anger. We are family. Not one other thing in our lives can be what family is, what family gives and what family shares. It is an amazing living being.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.