Missing David

Walking into the family home.
It’s warm with light and laughter and decoration.
Different faces than expected,
but familiar nonetheless.

No awkwardness from the core group.
Old patterns immediately, comfortably assumed.
The dogs greet each other –
a flurry of clanging tags whipping tails breathless panting.

I reacquaint with the leather-bound library and tattered children’s books.
In the kitchen my heart swells as I glimpse
the eternal boy holding his metal and wire, orange and yellow kite –
suspended in the air, magic as ever.

This is my family.
I am overjoyed to reconnect but leery of small talk.
I wander into the sitting room,
wonder when it will be polite to break into the olive tapenade.

I am drawn to the photos over the fireplace.
The same faces of my grandmother’s children look out at me
as have always looked out:
All at the height of teenhood, teetering on independence.

Among the bright smiles and dated hairstyles I catch
my uncle’s eye.
strong jaw.
smooth, unlined skin.
perfect curls.
He’s so young in this photo.

We never see him anymore.
He lives in California.
I’m not intimate with the details,
only that he met a woman – a servant of God.

I remember the strength he showed at Grandpa’s funeral:
Hugging my Grandma, breaking the mood
when he gestures to the casket, asks her
if she thinks Dad might be too warm in that sweater.
A half-hidden smile breaking into a wide grin,
his inappropriateness lightening the sorrow for a brief moment.

It’s my only story that I have left of him.
Except this:
He wasn’t there when my dad was dying,
when his sister was suffering.
When my mother was grieving.

He and I – we found ourselves at opposite ends of belief.
I realize with a jolt that if he met me now
he would think me damned to hell for eternity.

He lives in California.
With her.
With Him.
Without us.

Now the room fills – constant family mingling with family friends.
I turn away from his photo,
not allowing myself to wonder how he’s doing,
not quite able to stop myself from cursing him
for not being here.

Missing David
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3 thoughts on “Missing David

  1. 2

    Sorry about your loss Bri, sorry a loving and valued family member has gone AWOL.

    This is one of those situations I’ve run into a lot. It isn’t always about religion, but that’s often the case. A friend falls under the spell of an individual who isolates them from the ones they love and the ones who love them. Your uncle’s significant other might well be some flavor of personality disorder, one of those empathy-free individuals requires a host. Your uncle thinks he got lucky, but he drew the shortest straw of all.

    I don’t think religion causes this behavior, but I think it amplifies and justifies it. Religion or no, a chestburster will find a way. You can be in a relationship with a charismatic parasitoid who is an atheist and it is like you are a brainwashed member of a one-person cult, no religion required. The real failing of religion is not that it mandates these behaviors, but that for all their caterwauling about morality and right and wrong, religions, all of them, totally miss the mechanisms and afford camouflage and habitat for abusers.

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