Family is very much on my mind these days, last month my cousin died from lung cancer, as you can imagine it was a difficult time for his family, for me although saddened I hadn’t seen him since he was around 19, though we talked infrequently on Facebook, he was not someone I really knew.
There were questions as to why I didn’t attend his funeral, the main reason being I didn’t know when he actually died and found out on FB… we are a dysfunctional family to the nth degree.
Even if I did know I wouldn’t have gone, my own circumstances really wouldn’t permit, and knowing the kind of family I have I wouldn’t be able to face their questions, also knowing they wouldn’t have help, some of them using the situation to fuel the dysfunction, adding to my own misery.
From this my estranged brother found out that I had surgery, and I’ll give him credit he picked up the phone, our conversation was stilted, we hadn’t spoken much in the last 13 years since our mother died, but to go back further we were never what you called close our mother being the lynch pin, and when she died, there seemed to be no reason to continue the pretense.
There were also several issues around my mother’s death and the way in which he behaved at the time and after, that left a lot to be desired, and were deal breakers for me.
I shut him out of my life, preferring to be an only child, and it suited me as time went on I just didn’t think about family even when he joyfully told me about the birth of his daughter my only niece, not even that seemed to build bridges between us, pictures were sent and progress reports updated regularly, even that petered out after a while as we just settled into our separate lives.
When I was filling out the forms at the hospital and came to next of kin, I had to put his name, it did give me a very disquieting feeling especially when I didn’t know his address, I wrote down the last telephone number I had, again not even knowing if that had changed vaguely wondering if I didn’t survive what would happen if it was the right number, it also brought home to me how isolated I’d become and was very much alone in terms of family.
Family consists of many aspects and I’ve created my own family amongst good friends who have proved their worth over and over in terms of the support they’ve shown me over the last few years, it has been nurturing, but not quite in the same as your flesh and blood, as there is just you with out the history.
Anyway today my brother came to visit and I surprised myself, I was pleased to see him, the conversation at first was tentative, after all even though brother and sister we are strangers, with much history in between.
We both made an effort to let that go, we touched on each others perspective, each listening, each acknowledging, each understanding, each letting it go, without promises or apologies, it’s done.
So what now, we have agreed to keep in touch at least once a month, the next time he’ll be bringing my niece(who was unwell today) and try to keep the lines of communication open, so we’ll see what happens in the coming months.
For my part this was a huge step, in allowing a dialogue to take place accepting it and being open to having a family member, as my brother pointed out we each have only one brother and one sister, so it’s a good place to start laying foundations for a new bridge.
Seems to me on this journey of hope, it’s not all dust beneath my feet, and perhaps the beginnings of more solid ground.