After coming back from therapy with my brother in the morning, my mom needed help with the laundry so I offered my services and hauled 3 loads back and up the stairs. We dumped everything in the middle of the living room and summoned my dad and brother to assist with the exhilarating activity of folding.
My dad, brother, and I sat on the living room floor surrounded by our clothes, throwing each other’s clothes at each other to fold (mostly Jed), talking about nothing in particular. My mom labored in the kitchen making lunch, our reward for helping out.
Once we finished and put everything away, lunch was ready. We sat down and dug in, spending most of the time stuffing our faces and interjecting with a comment or quick story.
In that moment, I was extremely grateful. And impressed.
You couldn’t tell, in that moment, all the craziness we had come through. The anger, hate, conflict, fear, unhappiness. It’s not to say that those days are forever past – I still anticipate my parents’ disapproval when I get another tattoo and endure their condemning looks when I come home late the night before.
But there’s something about being able to laugh and thoroughly enjoy each other’s presence in the face of all we had endured. There are still things that need to be voiced and addressed, in my opinion, but we were able to let them be. And we were able to be in the here and now.
To be able to overcome any personal opinions and feelings and allow ourselves to appreciate the greater and grander is an accomplishment I didn’t think we could ever enjoy. I remember hating being in the presence of each of them at some point. I can’t even imagine what they all went through on their own toward each other, toward me.
But here we were. We almost looked normal, whatever normal is. I didn’t care that we carried our own baggage of hurt and pain we had picked up from each other. The fact that we were bigger than that was everything. It was everything that we could sit there with our baggage at our feet, preferring peace over justification, belonging over redemption. And in that, I think we were redeemed.
It gave me hope, knowing that we were built on something better and deeper than the idea of what a family should look like. We were built on something stronger than mere tolerance. We had our own stories, and while we may/will never truly understand each others’ journey, we consider our being together more significant than understanding every atom of each other’s being.
It gave me hope to think that if we had come this far, what could really stop us at this point? We’ve seen the ugliest sides of each other, the most violent, the most dejected, lonely, and ill-willed. Or is that just me? And we continue this journey. We refuse to quit. Even if my parents aren’t consciously choosing to not quit, it’s evident they haven’t given up either. Their concern and love for us extends past our understanding.
I’ve come to learn that in this life, there might be nothing more significant than being at peace with my family members. I didn’t get to choose them – they were the hand I drew. And if I could make it work, if we could make it work and learn the art of forgiveness and love, respect and honor, it makes me feel unstoppable. To know that I am loved and taken care of, that I am a part of this crazy family, makes me feel solid, centered, and at home.
They still drive me nuts, though.