I would sit on my mother’s lap, listening intently to her and her sister’s conversation over steaming cups of tea at the kitchen table. There were four boys running around, I was the only girl. And so, I felt that’s why I had the seat of honour: the one with the women. (It was also because I would have been forced to be Janeane in the game of Ghost Busters, but I preferred to tell myself otherwise.)
She died ten years ago, my aunt. It’s so incredibly difficult to believe that it’s been that long.
Ultimately, their conversation would turn away from silly gossip and I would be shooed out of the kitchen, tea cup lifted out of my hands. Pushed reluctantly into the world of my brothers and cousins. Reluctant not because I didn’t want to play with them, but because I was dying to know what my mom and her sister were talking about.
The filter through which I view life is a direct result from my carefree childhood. That is, it is one of innocence. I thought that all parents loved each other and danced in the kitchen. I thought grownups knew everything, always made good decisions.
Little by little, even though I’ve clamped my hands over my ears and started singing (loudly) lalalalalalala to block out what I didn’t want to be true, I’ve realized that it just isn’t so.
We are all just people. Flawed and full of bad choices. Just because you’re a grown up doesn’t mean you can’t get married to the wrong person, make a bad decision, hurt someone irreparably. Just because you’re a grown up doesn’t make you smart with your money or less stubborn or less likely to lash out in anger at the one who loves you the most. Just because you’re a grown up doesn’t mean it gets any easier to explain the fears that lay in the depths of your heart. And unfortunately, just because you’re a grown up doesn’t make you any smarter.
I laid in bed last night, tossing and turning, thinking of my aunt, of her children, of her almost-born grandchild. I thought about love and hurt and events that I now see through the lens of a fellow woman. I thought about forgiveness and grief and I cried a little. For her. For her son, who kept a locket with her picture inside tucked beside his heart on her wedding day. Who now waits anxiously for the birth of his child.
I can’t understand any of it, the loss, the hurt, the pain, the anger, any better now than I did ten years ago. But at least I can accept a little better that we’re all just people. We’re all just…. people.