As I said goodbye to Mom and Melody I teared up. I choked back tears as I waved and this happens to me with my family. I’m not certain of where the tears come from because for the most part, when I’m with my family, I feel no emotion, unless the emotion is anger.
But saying goodbye makes me fight back tears. What are these tears? I think they are tears of mourning, mourning not what was and is no more but maybe mourning what never was or what was before I was.
I go through pictures from when I was a baby and I see youth, hope and vitality in my parents faces, in how they look at me and how they look at each other.
Maybe they are looks that mask their fear and hopelessness or maybe it’s just hope, hope that what is won’t always be, hope that their marriage will be more or at least what they signed up for; hope that this little boy will heal the family and bring everyone close again or for the first time.
I see love in their faces or at least fear, maybe the fear of being loved or the fear of loving. Whether it is fear or love I think there is a veiled layer of hope, hope that love will come and that fear will not, hope that life will give what the 80s promised or at least what Jesus promised when he said you must be born again, and though they heard Jesus’ words through a foggy signal of their fundamentalist upbringings I believe they both knew that whatever was to be gained by being born again they wanted it.
As tears fill my eyes and just before I start wiping them away, since Tennessee hasn’t become a vulnerable place yet for tears, I look at mom and melody and in that moment I carry my whole family in my heart. I carry them to Jesus, as Jesus carries anyone, in the flesh and blood of his body. I see Mom and Melody and I’m sad and maybe the only reason I can be sad is because I have a family that loves me, that I love dearly. Maybe I cry because I know, or at least am learning, what it is to be loved and accepted for myself, as Michael.
Maybe I cry because when I look at them I don’t see youth, vitality and hope anymore. I see hope that has turned. I don’t see a look that hopes in love or at least hopes that fear won’t be right but I see a look that knows what is ahead because what is ahead is no longer ahead but here. I see looks that are sad, sad not because of what is, because that would be too painful to look at, but sad because what never was.
For my mom and Dad in particular what never was is where they’ve arrived. Their eyes no longer look to the camera or into my eyes with hope that the Christ will come, they no longer look with expectation of what being born again will bring because for them if they were going to find it the would have done so by now.
In my eyes, in their eyes, we look to each other choking back tears and I believe in looking at each other we are looking for another. Another who not only wipes away the tears but speaks love and comfort to the questions and cries for whom the tears speak. One who receives us in our “never-having-been-ness” and says it ok that you haven’t been because I AM.
This is the hope for my family – not that Christ will be but that he IS.
We may never share similar views around life, faith, politics and social policy and that is ok. But maybe they will catch the flame of love that never was in my family. Maybe Mom will stop hating herself. Maybe Marlee will find that she is lovable and worthy and know that on her worst days she is seen that way by God. Maybe one day that will make it to her own heart. Maybe Shawn and Beth will see that their is another level of community, that drinking and swearing is only better if done along with vulnerability. Maybe Dad will see that I don’t hate him, or at least he is not hateful. And maybe melody will be able to be a solid person and not feel she needs to be the balm to sooth everyone’s past, present and future (real or imagined) wounds.
Until then we will look at each other’s eye with hope deferred if not mostly gone and we will wait for the Christ, the one who IS, to be with us in all that never was.