17 January, 2018


A group of butterflies is officially called a kaleidoscope, 
although they are sometimes referred to as a swarm. 

Years ago, I recall reading that even the slightest flutter of a butterfly's wings could alter the world as we know it. At the time, it sounded like poetic quantum physics. Yet when applied to immediate reality, it is interesting to me that despite not having not seen certain family members for years, upon learning of their passing, I found myself fluttering.

My niece messaged me on Facebook last night(yes, Facebook has its merits) that my estranged aunt Sunny was rapidly declining and going into hospice. Oh, and by the way,  sorry to tell you that Aunt Donna died yesterday. What??

We exchanged a few more hasty texts in-between work calls to arrange a time to speak directly and I find out that her father, my sweet uncle Mike (whose real name was Don--but I digress) had passed away in December, 2016.

A myriad of emotions as I felt the swarm growing.  Confusion? Grief? Guilt?   Yep.

Let's add to this mix that only a few days after the new year, I get an email from my distant cousin telling me that a man who joined the same ancestry site had joined contacted her saying his DNA shows they/we are probably maternally related. She requested permission to give him my email address to reach out to me, too because ... (wait for it) ...  he thinks he might even be the birth son of  Aunt Sunny.  The timing and the irony does not elude me. Including the fact, that I was crafting an email to him today.  Now my email will be very different.

It's not 100% confirmed that he is her son as the adoption information did not disclose names. Yet it seems the ancestry DNA says it could be true. He wasn't trying to impose himself on Sunny but was curious what I know about her and/or any other living relatives.  I think some of my delay in responding to him immediately was because I have been so used to being an only child with no family to speak of that I was uncertain what to say.

I was raised an only child who craved having a real family. You know, like the ones I saw on TV or that my friends had.  The fact is that I did have a family -- a very dysfunctional, estranged and uncommunicative family--that again added to my growing up different.  I spent decades in denial about all of this--not having a father or siblings of my own--let alone, the diverse aunts and uncles who were offspring of a woman who married at the age of 14 and had 22 children.  Now I am wrestling with the fact that I have fewer of the people I didn't think I had in the first place.

Not having all the details yet in place, I know I don't have the full picture. But I can feel that there is a big healing for me that is taking shape.  From that healing, I know that my sadness and madness will transform into something wonderful. Kinda like a butterfly emerging from an overdue cocoon.

"They say that these are not the best of times
But they're the only times I've ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own
Now I have seen that sad surrender in my lover's eyes
And I can only stand apart and sympathize
For we are always what our situations hand us
It's either sadness or euphoria

So we'll argue and we'll compromise
And realize that nothing's ever changed
For all our mutual experience
Our separate conclusions are the same
Now we are forced to recognize our inhumanity
Our reason coexists with our insanity
But we choose between reality and madness
It's either sadness or euphoria

How thoughtlessly we dissipate our energies
Perhaps we don't fulfill each other's fantasies
And as we stand upon the ledges of our lives
With our respective similarities
It's either sadness or euphoria."
"Summer, Highland Falls" by Billy Joel

City Slackers

No, I did not misspell the title of this post. Yes, I was playing off of the comedy film title, "City Slickers" about a bunch of...