Family Pains

We attended the funeral yesterday for my sister-in-law’s younger sister, Donna. A woman vicar celebrated it. One brother read her eulogy and did so superbly. At the conclusion of the thoughtful, loving service, at the crematorium, we filed out past Donna’s casket to the sounds of – I kid you not – “Dancing Queen,” by Abba: it was her favorite song.

All wasn’t harmony and unity, though. One brother did not attend. There has been some major rift between him and the rest of his family. He wasn’t even included in the prayers which named all of the immediate family members, including several who are deceased.

We found out from our nephew afterwards that about 18 months ago he had moved. He didn’t even leave his new address with anyone. The rest of the family have no idea where he and his family now live – and if they even know about Donna’s death.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a family dining sign.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a family dining sign.

You may know of, or have even experienced yourself, something similar in your family. Fiction grants us nearly unlimited freedom to address real-life. Writers can say pretty much what we all would sometimes love to say, but we often never feel we can say out loud – as here, when Béatrice and her mother exchange heated words in this sneak peek into Distances:

A sneak peek into
A sneak peek into “Distances.” Click to enlarge.

I’ve come to believe conflict within families is rooted in our being unable to “escape” from it, which merely encourages everyone involved to dig their heels in all the deeper, thus increasingly the anger, bitterness, and even hatred. Among others, we are never forced to endure open-ended feuds. We see it in families because, we’re told, we are supposed to endure stoically and unconditionally behavior that we would never be required to tolerate for even 10 seconds from friends.

If friends treat you as disdainfully and viciously as some family members do, you can end a friendship on the spot and go your separate ways. Even if your boss is a horror, you can at least try to find another job and never have to look him in the face ever again. However, when it comes to our families we are lectured unceasingly that we have to put up with nearly anything.

Have a good day, wherever you are in the world.

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Author: “Conventions: The Garden At Paris,” “Passports,” “Frontiers,” and “Distances.” British Airways frequent flier. Lover of the Catskill Mountains...and the 1700s. New novel of 1797-1805, "Tomorrow The Grace," due out in 2019.