Sarah Rosemary at Sunny Side Up and I are hosting our own Reverb11, a series of prompts to look back on 2011 and manifest the new year. Please check our Reverb11 pages for details, and join in!
Prompt for December 7: 1,000 Words: Post a 2011 photo that’s worth a thousand words.
But I did want to say a few things about the picture above anyway. This is a photo of my immediate family, wearing the shirts that my friends designed for Team Merethon to wear as I ran my third New York City Marathon this year.
My family is NOT the “wearing matching shirts in front of the mountain house hearth” type. At best, we’re a waspier version of the Griswolds. We are often filled with expectations that do not come to pass, and when that happens (or doesn’t), we scream bloody murder at each other or to the universe after a few martinis (Hallelujah, Holy Sh!t! Where’s the tylenol?!)
I don’t think a single one of us expected to be where we are at this moment in time. I don’t think any of us planned for the rollercoaster ride of the last few years. (Can anyone plan for divorce and dealing with a family member’s addiction? Can anyone truly be ready for the challenges that come with getting older and with the significant life transitions that happen as a consequence of time? I’m not sure anyone can fully prepare for those things.)
A few years ago, I admit it: I was ready to walk away. I stopped using my family name. I stopped taking my family’s calls. We were all in excruciating pain, and none of us could bridge the gap between us. My father’s health wasn’t good; my brother was in and out of trouble with the law; my mother and I could barely communicate; I wasn’t eating and my marriage was failing.
It was a horrorshow.
But time helped. And so did a lot of hard work and therapy, I suppose.
In December of 2007, the four of us were in a Los Angeles County courtroom — my parents and I were in the benches in the back, and my brother was before the judge. And, four years later, for us to be standing together in front of a hearth and for each of us to be healthy is nothing short of remarkable. We have lost a lot in those four years. But we’ve gained more.
The thing is this: not everyone gets second chances. By some stroke of luck or grace, we did. And we seized ours. While the 26.2 miles it took me to earn that shirt were hard and rewarding enough, the four years it took to earn that photo were the hardest, most devastating, most worthwhile of my life.
I have said before that “that the world, and love, and everything else all spin on spoken and unspoken agreements to make things work. And required therein is the hopeful willingness to occasionally look stupid.”
I think we look ridiculous in that photo. But not a moment has passed since it was snapped that I haven’t thanked God that my family looks so hopefully stupid.