The favorite son

The younger generation

Churns up a realization from my stomach

That to grow old comes with the burden

Of family secrets from which they

Will always be protected

At least if I have anything to do with it

Which of their fathers never wanted children

Which of them cheated

And the sad story of the two brothers

One of them the favorite

The other most likely autistic

And how their father only beat the one

he considered to be the lesser version

And never laid a hand on his preferred son

Who was simply forced to watch

And guess which one of those two brothers

Killed himself off?

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Why is our family so messed up?

That was the last question

My cousin asked me

Before he overdosed on drugs

I’ve never repeated it

Until writing this poem

Because it was so damning

My most vivid memory

From the funeral was

My aunt standing outside the doors

Saying the open casket was too much

That she couldnt bear to go in

Forbidding her 21 year old daughter to see

What had become of our cousin

And encouraging every attendee

To shield their eyes

And just hold their vigil outside

Instead of going in

Where her sister spun further off

Into her horrible grief

Holding a seance desperately

Alienating the priest

Asking me, at 17, to have a surrogate

Replacement baby

Because I was the most like him

And his father bragging

About the top of the line casket

He had bought his son

As if it was a Cadillac

His eyes incredibly sad and stunned

What I remember last

Was the most important

how healthy and handsome

my cousin looked in his final moment

At my step-grandfather’s funeral

A relative whispered, “you know, we’re the only ones here because he was accused of raping his daughter from a previous marriage.”

I couldnt remember whether I was ever left alone with him as child.

That’s what I thought of first. Then, of the daughter and the wife.

“No, I didn’t know that.”

All I could do after that was stare at my lap and question my choice of attending and wearing black.

That’s how my family is. I wonder what they’ll whisper at my wedding. Something true and equally horrifying?

She used to cut herself and sleep in the closet. She ran away three times. She had several lesbian relationships. If you look hard enough, you can find naked photos online. She spent ten years addicted to drugs and overdosed twice.

The first thing people will wonder is if I should really be wearing white.

Everyone knows weddings wreak havoc on mental health down at the psych hospital

The crisis specialist tells me my regular therapist will be back very soon and I should try to wait for our appointment. I mention I’m just a little stressed about my wedding and she says oh…well then, you should come right in.

Same thing with the suicide hotline. It’s like there’s a red button with the word wedding on it and when you push it 3 doctors get ready to run up with a straight jacket.

Ok, so we come from slightly different backgrounds

“I wanted to elope. I’m doing this for you, goddamnit.”

“Well I’m sorry that my family…really loves me alot and would probably love to see me get married.”

*intense stare*

*blush*

“Did you really just say that?”

*nervous laughter on both our parts*

“Yeah. Should I be sorry?”

“Well, it was a little insensitive. But its nice you want to give them a wedding. Ok, I’ll book the venue. You send out the invitations.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want you to feel horrible. If it’s really important to you, we can elope.”

*mumbling*

“What?”

“Ahem. I said ‘Nah. We’ll get through this.'”

Normal Conversations

Hey, so we’re getting married in April and while I’d love to see you dance at our wedding, we totally understand that you probably won’t be able to attend.

Yeah, I’d love that too…but you know, it is a bit too far from France.

I get it!

However, I may be coming home for Christmas, so we can totally hang out then!

That’s great! Also, thank you for not asking me to move the whole date of our wedding. Because the whole point of this is that I’m forsaking everyone else and you know, marrying him. It’s not like I’m marrying any of the guests.

Totally. Who does that? Wait…did someone ask you to change the date of the wedding?

Yup. By 6 months. Not because they lived out of the country, but because it was kind of inconvenient for them. So now I’m excommunicated from another branch of the family. The shitter of it is, this is a woman who regularly takes 6 hour flights to do laundry for her adult kids and take care of their pets while they’re on vacation.

That’s rubbish!

Oh God, I really miss our normal conversations.