October 26th, 2006

pleasant view

My brother Hart's funeral

My brother Hart died a few days ago. We don't know exactly when, or even what happened. He lived alone and apparently died in his sleep. He had been unwell much of his life, having had a brain injury at age eight with significant sequelae, but no one thought his life was threatened by his health issues. It seems he truly did just go to sleep and not wake up, and I'm thankful he had an easy death. I hope, for my own peace of mind, that I'll soon hear the results of his autopsy.

I'm one of six siblings. I'm the second child and the eldest girl (we're boy girl boy girl boy girl). Hart was the next child after me. I had not seen him in a long time.

I was disowned over 30 years ago when I came out at age 19. My parents have been completely intransigent for all that time, insisting that all extended family members shun me as well. Most have complied.

I'm not the only one my parents have banned from contact with them and theirs. Of the six of us "kids" three have no relationship at all with our parents, and our parents have made great efforts to deny our existence. For example, they removed all pictures of me from their house when they cut me off. S., my youngest sister (15 years younger than me) corresponded with me secretly during high school. She's now in the estranged category herself. I feel like we are in two "camps" - the Mom-and-Dad Camp and the Banned Camp. I hate that, but I hated it more when I was in a camp by myself.
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For those who have read my fiction, this might give a little insight into how and why family estrangement is a theme that I explore. FWIW, here is my stance: I am subject to family estrangement but I don't participate in it. I don't in any way condone or contribute to cutting people out of their family's lives. Anyone who wants contact with me is always welcome to have it, even if they have not spoken to me for years, even if they have tried to get others to deny my existence, even if I know it's likely that they'll be friendly today and go back to pretending I don't exist tomorrow (this is the pattern with some of the siblings).

I invited my parents to my kids' bnai mitzvah as well as all my siblings, even those who pretend they don't know I exist. I do this not in any hope that they will change their minds, but because I want to set an example for my children that this is just something We Do Not Do. Banning relatives is a practice I abhor, and it is one that stops with me.
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