MY CHAIR LEANED BACK and the night sky opened up forever. There was silence between the four of us. Our words had gone as far as they would carry the emotion strangling our hopes and love and smiles sometime put on with determination.
One burning star owned my attention. For a moment, I faded to weightlessness: all was perfect and quiet, as all good families truly always ever are.
We are a crude coming together - close and touching, but not seamless. Like boards cut to fit by a nervous, novice craftsman, our joints don’t quite align in familial symmetry. At times, we stand as strangers knotted and bent around each other, pushing and pulling and holding. So it is, and sacredly ever shall be, we as a blended family. The cursing and the praising, the whispered prayers bathed in desire and despair. It all pleases Him who called these living pieces together, spackled in grace. Some days I’d choose us as pieces. It was easier then before rings and words and prayers that bind forever. No one ever chooses to look beyond love in the moment full of promise to days tattered and frayed by words that pull against promise. That’s why it is important to look back, to see the day again when love reigned over words and selfishness. I can still see the two of us joined and pulling the three of them close in to make a family of five.
And so it was that we began life anew - once four, then two, then five - a blended, knotted mess of God’s grace again aimed to defy odds and be owned by love.
This night, under the stars and in the thick of silent, the odds tugged to win with extra effort.
A lie. That was enough to give win and pull apart. She, one of our three daughters, was convinced of things as she had perceived them to be. As a result, she was pulled a bit further away into another reality different from truth and twisted in fear and anger. She was alone and safe for the taking. For weeks, her anger boiled and frothed over and reached for the freshest seam - her mom now, the wife of her father, the once friend and now ‘stepmom’ whose coming brought more finality to death and what once was. Every interaction between the two strained and hissed. This is blended family real in the wake of death - daily toeing the edge of making it and another addition to the 70% who don’t.
I could feel pulling hard and resolute. We all could, there under the stars and in the silence without words. And for a moment, I watched us break and the years ahead fracture. In case we break, I’d like it known that we tried. Our best foot stretches forward just enough to go beyond the other. We read to learn better, we talk out difficulties, we rage honestly and often fall to sleep praying quietly - we really try hard - and the reality of us breaking apart lurks, ready to loot the love that also dwells inside. Love is just not enough. At least it’s not always enough. The lie thieving then, under the stars and in the thick of silence, served as opportunity, as teaching moment and salvation. Storms will rage in our home, but we must bind ourselves to something that will hold, something that we can rope ourselves to and will hold when voices can’t be heard and the breaking reaches in to pull us back apart.
Truth shall bind us together tighter than love itself and Grace shall forever be saving.
In case we break, we are building to rush back together again. We may break again and again, but my hope is that Truth is a gravity that won’t let go.