My maternal grandfather is very ill and will pass away soon.
I haven’t seen my family in close to a decade.
I used to be close to my family – very close. My mom, her sister, and their mother were my best friends even through high school. My dad’s sister was my biggest fan and secret role model for decades. My cousins and I ran in a pack like wild animals. I cherished family reunions and looked forward to the chaos of the holidays with a childlike glee well into my early 20’s.
Eventually, my roving gypsy nature gripped me and I left Texas. I moved from place to place for nearly five years. As I traveled the great north, I grew and changed in ways that separated me from my conservative relatives, and I became neurotic about going “home”. When I finally did return to Texas, I settled in Austin and haven’t seen anyone but my parents and brother. I was distant through life and travel and youth.
Now, though, I remain distant through fear. I’m vastly different from my family – they’re all Christian republican conservatives, and I’m a bleeding heart liberal lesbian freaky witch who unschools her kid – the black sheep of the family, for sure. And I actually have had experience with persecution by a few family members, so there are emotional reasons behind the fear.
However, I’m proud of who I am. I’ve struggled long and hard to get where I am, and I’m in a damn good place.
So tomorrow, I’m going back. I’m taking my wild unschooled kid, my beautiful witchy wife, and my crazy, tattooed, pierced self, and putting in an appearance at the hospital. It’s important to me to see my family before my grandfather goes – I want to be there for my mom and grandmother. What’s more, I’m going to see the rest of my estranged family at Christmastime.
It’s time. I’ve spent too long hiding away in my safe bubble in the Austin Weirdo community fearing my family’s reactions to me and my life. I want to see my relatives, the people who share my blood and my childhood, before death is in the air. A crisis is an extremely difficult time to reconnect, and I regret leaving it so long.
Who have you been avoiding out of fear? Whose love do you miss? Which connections do you regret letting lapse? Find them. Seek them out. Reconnect and remind each other of the love and memories you share – today. Soon. Before death brings you together and the air is full of sorrow and grief instead of joy and laughter.
It’s scary, it’s hard — but it’s worth it.