I saw my grandmother today. What’s left of her. They didn’t tell me until just before I approached the casket that she had lost all her hair in chemotherapy. It was hard. I’m terribly afraid, even still, that if I cry to hard, I won’t be able to stop. At the graveside, Brother Cliff, a friend of my Momma’s family for many, many years, read her obituary, talking about her children and grandchildren, naming each in turn. And he missed my name. It was a mistake, and he apologized to me profusely – and more importantly, genuinely. But it struck home for me that when everyone else had come together for both my Pappaw and my Mammaw, I was the one that was missing. Just like their 50th anniversary when I was in high school. I was in Dallas, marching in the Cotton Bowl, rather than at home, helping them celebrate the greatest love that I’ve been allowed to watch and take part in. I can only hope that my marriage reflects back the beautiful example they set for me.
Even now, I’m having trouble staying on tangent. I’m reminded of a hundred different things, a hundred different occurrences. Remember, I’m the rainbow sheep of my family. But my Mammaw and Pappaw never made me feel like anything but perfect, just the way I was. Which is saying something, because I doubt that even that doting pair could begin to fathom the things that moved me. I can only do the one thing I know, and that’s continue to live the life they always encouraged me to live, the only life I know how to live. But I feel myself coming to a time when things will have to change, at least with my extended family. I can no longer hide behind the need for obscurity. Even now, I think with that back, half-conscious part of my mind, how I can sabotage myself so that they find out without me having to find a way to broach the subject. At this point, I already feel an outsider in my family, as the only two people who ever truly accepted me without trying to influence me to be more “normal” are gone. Don’t misunderstand, dear readers, my Momma and my Aunt Sharon – along with my brother and my younger two cousins – love me unconditionally. But, in their subtle (and occasionally not-so-subtle) ways, they’ve tried to encourage and influence me to their ideal of normality, a normality that unites them even as they bicker among themselves.
And yet. Right now, I lack the courage or the strength to lose anyone else, and I fear losing the love of my family. I am, despite everything, desperately in love with my family and close to them in a way I can’t explain, especially considering the distance that is between us, both geographically and intellectually. I love my family and fear the losing of them. I could make it, because so long as I have my Joshwa, I have my truest family. But, maybe once the pain is not so raw. Once I can think of my grandparents without tears in my eyes, I’ll think about trying. For now, I’m left only to think of the need to try. Because how do you explain to your family that as they speak of Jesus and salvation, it’s the wind brushing my face, it’s why I call out to Danu and Dagda, that I feel wrapped in the comforting embrace of the Divine? For now, I think, it’s enough that I am able to reach out to that comfort. Later, I’ll worry about trying to explain it to my very Christian, very “normal” family. And, for now, good readers, I bid you, good night.