Cancer. It is like a cancer, isn't it? I need the metaphor to explain the disease itself; the way you deal with a scare, get the all clear, then wait for the next one to arrive. And sooner or later it does.
No all-clear this time. Someone in the family, not Beloved or the kids, but still close enough, has had some precautionary lumps removed, only to find one of them isn't benign. It's in a place where prospects are not always great.
If you're a regular reader you'll know who someone is, because this comes in the middle of a rift, a rift that came in turn on the back of decades of struggle, some hits, many misses. Although I haven't blogged about it much lately, things have improved a bit since I wrote a fairly raw post a few months ago. In his usual, screwed-up way he's moved on and acted as if nothing was up, sending me books he thinks I'd like and getting chatty again on the phone. In some ways when I stop to think about it this makes me quite angry in itself, but I've generally resolved not to dwell too much and just accept it as the latest instalment in a long melodrama.
In fact the angriest I've felt since was when someone told me I needed to forgive him completely or I would never be able to move on. I couldn't fathom the logic of this, as much as the person may have meant well. I've relinquished, started talking to him again, decided that even though he won't make the effort to visit us I would still give his relationship with his grandkids a chance and visit them, from time-to-time. I'd partly-accepted, if not entirely excused, his conduct (and indeed a lifetime of it) as that of someone who was badly abused as a child, who is emotionally damaged and imperfect. What the fcuk is forgiveness in this context? A dishonest act of quasi-religious ascetic transcendence? In my heart I won't forgive the rejection entirely, and frankly with a personal philosophy that believes people should be held to account, it would create cognitive dissonance within me to try.
I found the statement, delivered in lecturing tones, akin to blaming me. After all, if forgiveness is what we should do, and we can't do it, then we aren't doing what we should do and apparently any lingering sadness or disappointment we carry is our fault. Isn't it possible we aren't actually the cause, that's the emotionally-abusive party who rejected us? And while clinging to daily bitterness won't make us happy, trying to take a happy-clappy view of things won't either? Isn't letting them slip back to normal like nothing happened, continuing to facilitate what contact they choose to have with their grandkids, continuing to talk to them and effectively accept the screwed-up status quo they have insisted on defining, isn't this all enough?
I will put my (apparently unacceptable) residual anger aside. I will take the family up to visit soon, far sooner than I previously intended. I will let the most important things take precedence, provide the opportunity for grandparent and grandchildren to find moments together. Perhaps because, despite my previously posting the worst of my fears and concerns, I believe this deeply repressed and self-centred man still cares. He may leave this world wondering why he didn't make more out of the past 3 years, regretting pissing his days away between the garage and the garden while his grandkids were growing up. He should. I won't do anything to make it worse.
We haven't got to that point yet, but the prognosis is currently uncertain. He's an old bugger, but I don't want him to die.
A tribute to Fred Gruen - A few weeks ago, I gave the FH Gruen lecture, on the topic After reform: the economic policy agenda in the 21st century. Thanks to sound editor Simon Kravi...
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