Sunday was almost perfect, would have been perfect except for him. We were on our way to a family gathering, the first on my side I've been to in years. This family is so big, too big, for me to feel comfortable, so I avoid the reunions, afraid of rejection, of having to make conversation with the strangers that are my family. My grandma is one of 15, leaving me with great aunts and uncles that I don't even know the names of, me the one who loves to know names, couldn't even fill out the family tree on my grandmother's side. It's sad. There are a couple aunts and uncles I know, ones that I cherish, but haven't seen in far too long. The recent deaths on my husbands side remind me this, so I determine to go to the next family function, a birthday celebration for one of my great-uncles.
We stopped on our way to pick up Aris. But he was waiting, and stabbed me with his words before I could even knock on the door. The accusations were horrific, and there was no waiting for reply. Unsettled, I wanted to wait outside, but instead was herded in by his mother for more. He yelled and swore and accused, while I stood. I felt compassion for this man, so desperate, so broken, so far from the God he once loved. The unreasonable anger hurt, as did the accusations and complete inability to reason or listen, but there was a sense of sadness, grace and compassion towards him.
Finally, I escaped and bawled in my van. I was stuck, no ability to go by myself, to recover. Instead I sobbed for well over an hour with my poor babies and husband there with me. There was nowhere to go, no escape, no safe place to process. Just the van, on our way to a family function. It was bad. And I became angry at him, for what he put me through, for what my children were being exposed to, for taking away my joy of sharing a drive with my husband. We love long drives for then we talk and share time. Instead I was a wreck, out of control. It was not pretty.
My mom called, thinking she had seen our van. She struggled to decipher my words uttered through wracking sobs. She prayed. Steve prayed. My dad prayed. Slowly the tears stopped and I calmed. We arrived, and I shut down, playing with my iPod until my parents met us there. Then, taking a deep breath, with more prayer, we went in.
My great-uncle Charlie, whom I couldn't pick out in a crowd although all the siblings look strongly alike, but know that he was a fiddler of some renown, turned 90. My dad tells stories about his aunts and uncles, who danced and fiddled and made mischief and music. My great-aunt Lila is there, a beautiful butterfly broach pinned to her chest, eyes sparkling so you'd never know she'd lost both legs and can't dance anymore. I wanted to see her especially, one of my favourite great-aunts with her zest for life. I hugged her and showed off my babies and husband too, for she hadn't met any of them. My great-aunt Bertha, sister to my grandfather and my great-uncle Ted, brother to my grandmother(and married to each other) were there too. They didn't recognize me at first, so I grabbed my dad and came back. With him in tow, the connections were clear. It's been awhile since I've been known as Tom's girl. In such a large crowd, I didn't know how to introduce myself. Am I Tom's girl or Mavis' granddaughter? For the first time in quite awhile, Steve's wife didn't work.
So the day got better, even as I wrestled with emotions. The familiar darkness came back and has been lingering on this week, rushing in at odd hours. I'm weaker than normal, and the renewed energy that I been enjoying dried up again. I feel trapped, unable to communicate clearly. My nightmares are returning. I'm becoming paranoid again, scared to trust anyone at all.
Then this text, apologizing, came. My anger boiled. Steve was puzzled over my response. Hours later when I asked him why, he pointed out that this is probably the second apology we've gotten from him since we've been married. Hmm...that does mean something. So I ranted in my head, mused over forgiveness and why I don't want to offer him any. I know I must. Heavens, I counsel my children over and over that we forgive because God forgave us. Perhaps I don't feel forgiven. Drawing deep breath, I opened my phone and responded "I forgive you". The hurt is still there as is some anger. But the choice has been made. I will forgive because I am forgiven. Perhaps in time, this will be enough.
Joining with Emily today,