Monday, May 23, 2011


I was nearly 40 when I got married. Some might have called me a spinster, but I preferred to think of myself as fashionably late. I'm late for everything, so why should this be any different. Since my name belonged to the only family I'd ever known, I decided to hang onto it. But I wanted it both ways, remaining a part of my old family and incorporating the new, so I tacked them on with a hyphen. It's a cumbersome mouthful to spit out, and a pain in the ass to spell over the phone when the receptionist can't quite figure it out. But I like the symbolism—a house united, two families become one.

One of my favorite people on earth is living the flip side of this story—a house divided, one family become two. I don't much like the negative term "broken home," but it's certainly apt in this case. Their family is broken—snapped like a twig over a knee, splintered ends flung to the farthest corners of the forest.

Having never been divorced, I find myself gorging on delicious righteous indignation, an all-you-can-eat-buffet of criticism. It's easy for me to harshly judge the choices they've made, never having faced them myself. But it's not easy to watch. When their family broke, my heart broke right along with it— not for the adults so much, but for the children, especially that child who is one of my favorite people on earth. I don't know what they're going through, or what it took for their lives to snap so utterly and irreparably in two. What I do know is that every time I want to point my damning finger and try to assign the blame, I should offer my hand instead, and try to assist the healing.

This family is broken, but the people in it aren't. When they landed on their opposite sides of the continent, they suffered injuries for sure—a few hairline fractures, a couple of cracks. But Leonard Cohen got it right, "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

photo credit Gabrielle Kai Photography


Mom said...

Beautiful, and all too true.

Anonymous said...

"All my favorite people are broken." -- Karin Bergquist, Over the Rhine