Saturday, January 17, 2015

Showing Up

"Pat was killed in a head on collision on a small highway in East Texas."

"Your Uncle Steven had an accident at work. They've rushed him to the burn unit in Lubbock."

"Cancer struck our family. LauraDelia has an inoperable brain tumor."

"Your brother Kody had another motorcycle accident. This time they think he broke his neck."

"I found Keith's truck flipped and mangled on the side of the Pampa highway. He's in surgery now. They aren't sure if he'll make it out of I.C.U."

"It's time to say goodbye. Grandmother Horn is ready to go. Please come to Chillicothe."

"Jay's had a stroke. They are care-flighting him to Northwest Hospital."

"Mikey's gone. He lost the battle with a cunning, baffling disease."

In the last twenty years, my family of origin has suffered its fair share of trials and tribulations. We're an eclectic bunch full of chaos and love, and I've come to expect the unexpected. Thanks to the steady example set by grandmother, Nora, I have learned countless life lessons about hope, resiliency, and reciprocity. One human truth I value the most is this: Being part of a family means showing up.

Connection and belonging buoy me when the seas are calm and when the choppy waters rage. During joyful moments and trying seasons, I find solace in the loyalty and devotion displayed by those I love. Sometimes obligation or duty propels us. At other times, allegiance and affection are our guide. Either way, showing up matters. 

I have been given a gift and a curse in the form of a large family. We shout, scream, and cry together. We've weathered the storms of divorce, unplanned pregnancies, and financial loss together. We share unsolicited advice, poke our nose where it doesn't belong, and ruffle each other's feathers together

Do we get mad at each other? Heck yeah. Do we annoy one another? For sure. Are there times we prefer to detach and distance ourselves? Yes. But we still show up. We call, we visit, and we send gifts. We gather on holidays and momentous occasions, even if it's just for a few hours. We don't do it perfectly, but we make the effort. 

When one of us is hurt by something said or done, we lick our wounds, grumble about it to our spouses, and take a deep breath. It's important to remember that when people do something wrong, we shouldn't forget all the things they did right. A mixture of commitment, attachment, and tenacity move us forward. In the end, we know we are never alone. We've got each other.

Brene Brown writes, "Vulnerability is about having the courage to show up and be seen." I couldn't agree more. 

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