Family.

My friend and I spent many hours drinking coffee and watching our (then) little kids play at the edge of Caspian Lake, on colder summer days moving our coffee to the front seat of the car while my daughter’s hair blew over her eyes and lips in the wind. Those little kids are all grown up now, busily figuring out their own lives.

This Saturday, while we’re swimming, my daughters have dressed in heels and dresses and gone to a wedding. Late that night, after a long drive, they return with stories not about the dress or the Inn or the cake, but with stories of people and families and whose lives have gone awry and who is kind. An aunt and uncle of the bride have traded in family participation for a cult. Another family member is wandering out west, immersed in her own story, having cut herself free from any family obligation.

In the midst of this are the young adults, all working hard, scrambling in the severe shortage of housing in Vermont, trading advice about colleges and education. Brushing our teeth, we laugh and laugh. My daughters are no longer young in the way of using sand toys at the beach, but very young at heart, ready to make the world new in their own lives and hearts.

Family, we agree, using this word as both a noun and a verb.

Midsummer. Rain. Snails in the cabbage. Blooming calendula. I wouldn’t trade these obligations for the world.

“I am so far from being a pessimist…on the contrary, in spite of my scars, I am tickled to death at life.” 

― Eugene O’Neill

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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