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Family gatherings are wonderful and at the same time they're not. They can be reminders of the spaces that time and experience creates between people who grew up in the same household. Their uniqueness is even further magnified by the pairings we produce with people who themselves bring a diverse background into a marriage.

I am present but am removed as well and reflect on how the years have shaped all our grown children; their diverse opinions and behavioural traits speak volumes about the reality that, at our root, we are all solitary creatures who mostly live inside our own heads.

Robert comes to me and asks me if he looks okay. The sadness in his eyes betrays his inability to hide that his schizophrenia greatly perturbs him. He wants to get off his meds and yet he cannot because the voices will return even stronger. At 24 there is still much hope that something will be found to solve this most virulent strain of his disease. He watches everyone for tell tale signs that they are talking about him and occasionally verbalizes that concern only to be reassured that people are not. The apparent happiness of his cousins must be frustrating given his awareness that he cannot revel in his own.

I do my best to reassure him that there is hope.

We do not choose our family or our lot in life and therein lies it's inherent unfairness but also its opportunity for finding our own way.


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