The Relative Conversation

It happens sometimes. He encounters people with functioning extended family–they exist in movies and television. They pop up at the occasional birthday party.

He asks, do I have cousins? Or uncles, aunt, grandparents, depending on the occasion. And I find myself staring at the rock wall of truth.

How do you explain the FBI definitions of rape to a kindergartener? How do explain the way humans can run like roaches when confronted with the concept themselves? Or worse. There is always worse.

So I take time to answer, starting with the easiest part–You have cousins. You played with them before. You just don’t remember.

He makes an expression of mild exasperation. Why can’t he remember them?

I tell him he probably would if he saw them again. I tell him I will show him pictures.

You have pictures? he exclaims, as though I have been stashing chocolates.

Yes. I have pictures. And memories too. They are pretty lovable kids.

And this is the part I have yet to frame into words, into pictures on the wall of who we are–

If you love someone, and that loved someone gets hurt, badly hurt, it is your job to stop the hurt. Your job to stand up for that love. Whatever the cost. Whatever the monsters

If you don’t, you can’t call it love.

Darling, I am so sorry, it was our own family who taught me that.

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