I was sitting and having a late lunch earlier and channel surfing for something to watch while I ate. I flipped back and forth between an episode of Roseanne and the 1989 film Parenthood on HBO. Something interesting happened. There was a commonality that connected both to each other and then to me and my own family - blood family and chosen family. Suddenly it just made sense to me, something I've been upset and stewing on for almost a year and a half at least on - and just made peace with.
In the episode of Roseanne, everything centers around David & Darlene's wedding. As David and his brother Mark are getting dressed for the ceremony, David laments the fact that their biological parents aren't coming to his wedding. He thinks it is sad that on his wedding day they cannot muster the effort to be supportive, involved parents. Mark admonishes him and tells him that Dan & Roseanne are their parents now because they're the ones who stepped up to take care of them and take them in as family, and further that it is a slap in their face to waste time worrying over two people who couldn't be bothered to even BE active parents in the first place, having kicked him out at 16 and treating David like a dog. He ties David's bow tie for him, much to David's surprise. When asked who taught him how to tie a tie, Mark responds: "Dad. It's the only thing he ever taught me. Now I've taught you. And since that's the only thing he's done for you today, you don't need him anymore." Later in the episode, Dan laments (moments prior to having a heart attack) the fact that he wants Darlene to not miss any opportunities. Before walking her down the aisle he gives her the key to a safety deposit box he has stashed "Just In Case" money in. She tries to reassure him that they're young and will have more than enough time to do all of the things they want to do when Dan explains how wrong that thinking is, that you always think you're going to have more time than you actually do. That one day your baby is a baby, the next he's in High School. Then your youngest daughter is getting married and preparing to have her OWN baby. Then he tears up and his voice cracks when he says "I haven't spoken to my father in 2 years..."
I flipped over to Parenthood. It was the scene in the kitchen when the son-in-law is explaining his view of having a male role model in a child's life. He says "Well, it depends on the man. I had a man around. He used to wake me up every morning by flicking lit cigarettes at my head. He'd say, "Hey, asshole, get up and make me breakfast." You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, or drive a car. Hell, you need a license to catch a fish! But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father. "
This is also very poignant as Christi and I only last week were talking about this scene and those specific lines in Parenthood as relevant to a recent family tragedy. Now I could easily write about my own trials and sad lack of tribulations with my own father, especially since he's been weighing heavily on my mind and heart in recent months, but I'm not going to do that. Maybe another time, but this isn't about him - or me - this is about what I hope to help others learn.
Sometimes it is necessary to reevaluate who you've let stay part your life. Some people have a hard time with that concept. I think it is necessary because often times we fill up our lives with people who are of no use to us, they don't offer anything but trouble or strife or some form of negativity, and that eats up incredible amounts of time and energy. To say nothing of the space that would be better filled by people who are invested in you, who love you actively, and who compliment your life rather than complicating it.
I've had the good fortune recently to become reconnected with many people from my past. People I've lost touch with, whom I've gone to school with, I've been in love with, and people who have been beside me through various things with and I will always keep a light on in the dark for each of you to find your way back to me anytime you need me. If you're reading this and think I am possibly talking about you then it's probably because I am - and I love you. As perfectly and completely as I am capable of, and in ways that only I can.
None of this came to me with the sadness I expected. On the contrary, it was a surprise to find I felt lighter and more at ease. Which just means I'm one little inch closer to the peace of mind I'm searching so hard for as I get older and am finding more and more of almost daily. I'm happy to grow older with you people, my chosen family, especially those of you who have seen me at some of my worst times and will still stand beside me until the end of us all.
I've never been happier in my life than I am as I approach 40. I never thought I'd live this long, but I'm glad I managed. If I hadn't stuck it out and kept going when there was nothing but sheer willpower driving me on then I'd never know what it felt like to now be constantly surrounded by such wonderful people and this never ending love that I get from you all.
So I thank you, I love and appreciate you, and take you with me everywhere I go.