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another grace

last night i was rereading l.m. montgomery's a tangled web when i came across a passage that positively struck me in the face.

and grace penhallow cried, which was so unusual that her husband whispered testily, "what are you crying for? you always hated her."

"that's why i'm crying," said grace drearily. she could not explain how futile the old hate seemed to her now, and its futility made her feel sad and temporarily bereft of all things.

at my brother's wake, my aunt said the same thing to me (more or less) and i was so shocked i could not speak. i was 18. my brother had been 21. it wasn't like we were middle-aged and had ceased talking for the last twenty years. i know what kind of family she grew up in so it was absolute BULLSHIT that she couldn't comprehend sibling rivalry and sibling discontent. but, as always, we just sort of shrug off her barbed comments and sigh as if to say, "well, that's just her."

truth be told, though, i carried for years the unsettled feeling that maybe i did hate him and that maybe my behavior did warrant such a comment at a wake. looking at the above lines, i felt like i knew what that felt like -- the futility of an old hate. when it's over, it's over and what do you have left? so many times since he died i looked back and i did not know what claim to a relationship i ever had with him. the last thing i said to him was, "can i use your computer?" he said yes and went to his room. never saw him alive again. did i ever say i loved him? i don't remember. ask anyone, we just didn't travel in the same circles. apathy or argument. i have let that overshadow any good memories we may have had together.

so -- was i crying because i cry at funerals (although i couldn't know that back then), was i crying because i was shaken by the ugly presence of death or was i crying because i suddenly saw the emptiness and wrongness in the way i treated my own flesh and blood for the last 15 years?

am i grace penhallow? maybe i am.



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