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Choosing Love

Modern life is full of oddities, like having a heavy, meaningful discussion about family relationships with a friend, by text, by cell phone. Yesteryear, such communications were reserved for campfires, dim corners of bars, hunting camp late at night, and other out-of-the-way places and moments in life. They happened once a year, maybe. Now, technology creates a sense of anonymity and immediacy, some might say carelessness, that elicits the deepest emotions in the plainest, least number of characters allowed in a text box.

It got me thinking about how it is possible to find love in unconventional places and in unexpected people. Convention says that humans are supposed to expect, and receive, love from their birth families. Love is where you find and make it, of course.

My friend’s brother recently wrote an email to his entire family, asking them to leave him alone, telling them that staying in touch with them caused him more pain than pleasure. Because their parents enjoyed one of those brutal years-long divorces, everyone was scarred from a young age. This 30-ish year-old man has decided to shake off the past and embrace his future with his wife, child, and in-laws.

Naturally, many of his family members are hurt by his emails. A melee of emails ensued, back and forth between this young man and his family members. What impressed me is how matter of factly and clearly he explained his feelings. Of course, most of the family members made it all about them, how hurt they felt, what about their kids (his nieces and nephews), etc. In all of the emails shared with me, I saw not a glimmer of empathy among his family. And they are all decent people.

Off in a distant, far-flung corner of the Mid-West, a young man is starting over emotionally. Finding the love he feels he never received from his birth family now with his wife and child, he has curled up to heal, like a wounded animal or warrior, sleeping off a ferocious fight. If his birth family members love him, they will let him sleep.

Hollywood makes movies about super heroes with super powers, the ability to bend steel, or read minds. Fantasy, yes, and foolish. Because, what strength it takes to merely survive day to day for so many, to get past old hurts, to put one foot in front of the other, to get up and go to work, to smile when crying would feel better, to hold someone when being vulnerable is a risk. These are super-human traits. Surviving is fantastic, and laudable.

You are in good company, Sam. So many of your fellow Americans want to start over, and you found the strength to do it. America is going through a tough time, bringing lots of emotions to the surface in all communities. I salute you and wish you success. And you have my pledge to watch over your little brother. He is a good man, and I care about him.

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