Black Sheep Can Find Love, Too

by Bill Brenner on August 14, 2011

Yesterday was a big family wedding and it was wonderful. My cousin Andrew married a great gal, and a lot of people who don’t usually get along managed to peacefully co-exist.

Mood music:

I gotta give my mother a lot of credit. Despite all the trouble between us, she gave me and Erin hugs and was very friendly. That couldn’t have been easy. My stepfather kept his distance, but given the tension in the air, who could really blame him?

My Aunt Robin didn’t say more than three words to me, but that’s ok. She hadn’t seen us in a very long time and that has to create some awkwardness. I watched her being a good, nurturing and loving aunt to several cousins, and that made me happy. It was really good talking to my Aunt Dee. The two of them look great. Aunt Robin has such a close resemblance to my late grandmother that I was taken aback at first. It goes to show that the dead live on in others. Also very comforting to see.

One of my cousins was there and it was the first time I had seen her in over 20 years. She’s not on speaking terms with much of the family. She didn’t remember me on sight, but last time we saw each other I was a skinny, long-haired metal head. Now I’m a husky, bald-headed metal head.

Funny how things work out in families.

Ours has been through the meat grinder. There has been a lot of mistrust and misunderstanding along the way. There’s been way too much sickness and death. I’ve gone through the last few years thinking of myself as the black sheep of the family. I still do, but I feel a lot less isolated in that role.

The family seems to be littered with black sheep. I just happen to be one of them.

I don’t think yesterday did anything to change the family dynamics. The people who are not on speaking terms need a lot more than a family wedding to resolve the overwhelming tangle of misfiring wires.

But everyone getting along in the same space showed that despite everything, despite the divisions, everyone still fundamentally loves each other. That’s important, because as one of the refrains in the second reading of the wedding ceremony made plain, you can have everything in the world. But if you don’t have love, you have nothing.

I’ve had a lot of love and blessings in my life in the last few years. I’ve come far in overcoming addictions and mental illness. Even the family discord has served a purpose. Simply put, me and my mother are still too explosive a combination to get along right now. I’d like that to change someday, but I’m not sure if it will.

My Uncle Bobby, the last of the siblings that included my grandmother, took me aside at one point and said life is too short to hate.

He is absolutely right.

But hate has nothing to do with it.

Mistrust, hurt feelings and deep disagreements over right and wrong? Absolutely. But not hate.

I still love everyone, and I forgave my mother a long time ago.

So why, you’re probably wondering, can’t we just let the past lie in its grave and move on? Because relationships are deeply complex things, and it is never that simple or easy.

For now, I’m simply content to see that everyone is doing well. It’s not all peace and harmony. But it’s still family.

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