Thursday, December 08, 2005

THIS is what family feels like

This is what family feels like. That phrase has been running around in my head all day. Forthcoming personal essay on the title (Honest). I'll tell you what happened last night when these words came into my head. We had company over last night: my inlaws, along with my husband's brother and his wife. I had gone all out and been really excited to have everyone over to eat and host people at our house. (Very fun for me, since we still don't have any kids and have a small house and we're not as established as some of the other siblings. It's nice when you can contribute, too.) After dinner, I was in the kitchen doing dishes. My brother-in-law, Brent, and my father-in-law were in the kitchen talking with me. Brent started talking about some incredible stress that they've been struggling with in regard to one of their sons. This has been a topic that we've discussed many times with them, and something that Scott and I have watched and admired them many times over for how they deal with the situation. How they do it I'll never know. In any case, as the conversation went on, Scott, his mom, and Allison (Brent's wife) also came to the kitchen, and everyone was involved in the conversation. I witnessed such a beautiful, wonderful moment. Right after a telling comment about the seriousness of the situation, Scott looked at Brent and asked him what the next step was. I watched, quietly, as Brent's face changed. The desperation came out. His face went red and he quietly said, "I don't know," and began to cry. For a few silent moments, the feeling in the room was sacred. And, for some reason, in that very moment, the thought that came to my mind was, "This is what family feels like." I was so profoundly touched by being able to be there, to be part of a situation where someone's most difficult and tender feelings come right out on the sleeve. I was able to share in it. I can't really descibe what it is that happened, but it's been in my head all morning. I found myself thinking about it last night, and thinking of other "this" moments that I have shared with those that I love, where it feels like you're really let inside, like the walls come down, like we actually accept each other as human beings with imperfections and put our arms around each other no matter what. And not even necessarily always with sad things. The feeling is different, but something similar approaches the "this" feeling when someone you love makes you laugh so hard you cry, or when you realize that you're both having the same reaction, were thinking the same thought, were responding the same way---essentially when you're walking two different bridges and then realize you're on the same one.
The other side of this thought was wondering how often I actually let people into my fears, my struggles, my need for help at times. How often do I just put on a happy face, and deny those who love me the opportunity to experience what I felt last night? (Not that I'm saying, BTW, that we should always feel that way. There's a reason that we feel private most of the time on these things I think.) But, I wonder, how often do I want the rest of the world to just think that everything is always fine, even if I'm not feeling particularly fine on some day, particularly with those that I love...? For me, when someone opens up to me and shares their heartaches, I feel, for some reason, a portion of me cleansed. Like a renewal. Like something unique and special that is bridging us; letting me see that other people are human, too, and we struggle. One other thought on this: I recall a quote by Elder Nelson (I think?) on communication. He says, in essence, that we don't speak sometimes because we are afraid of being misunderstood. I've thought a lot about that, and I really think it's true. I think we're afraid that we're not going to be heard how it was meant. We want to be treated gently, to be understood and validated. Maybe that's why we have a hard time breaking the walls down. ???

In any case, last night was sacred, a linking, the tangibility of the emotion and love weighing delightfully heavy on my heart.

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