Here's the final score: Krupp 17, Whitman 0
That's the number of relatives on each side of the family who attended Emily's graduation party. I really wasn't trying to keep score. I may have the number wrong on the Krupp side. I have no doubt that I got the Whitman side correct.
We mailed out invitations weeks in advance. We talked to people on the phone. A bunch of Krupp's and a handful of Whitman's said that they would be there. The Krupp's who said they would be there were there. The Whitman's who said they would be there weren't there. To put it in perspective, I have a father, a sister, and an adult niece and nephew who live within a half-hour drive of our house. Each Krupp traveled anywhere from 2.5 to 7 hours to reach our
house. One of them just had major cancer surgery, but he was there.
It reveals nothing I haven't known for a long, long time. But it saddens me. And I realize that this is nothing more than my own private pity party, but humor me for a moment. We give and give and give. We're the ones who host the Christmas family times, such as they are. We're the ones who give the presents. We're the ones who call. And it gets old, and it leaves a hole in the soul. I suppose I was hoping against hope that they could at least acknowledge that this was an important milestone for my daughter, that they could make some feeble attempt to relate to her before she leaves and those opportunities are gone forever. But why start now?
It really was a wonderful party. It made me realize how truly surrounded we are by people who love us and care about us. But for whatever reasons, I have a hard time not focusing on who wasn't there. You live with the hole, but it doesn't go away, and every so often the curtain is pulled back to reveal ... nothing.
I don't always know how to respond. What do I say to my family? Do I say anything? Do I just continue to play the game, invite them over for Christmas, pass out the presents knowing that there won't be any presents handed back to us? Do I explain to them that my wife, one of the kindest, most compassionate people I've ever known, wants to plant a boot solidly up their individual arses? And that I don't blame her, and that I'd be shopping for especially pointy boots if I got the chance?
"Where's your family?," Kate's 88-year-old mom asked me at one point on Sunday. "I never see them." She moves slowly these days, but she wouldn't have missed Emily's graduation party for anything. 'I don't know," I told her. "Maybe they forgot."
Or maybe they never stored it in the ol' memory banks in the first place, which is the more likely explanation. Maybe it didn't register, in the same way that my daughter's life has never registered for them, in the same way that my life doesn't register for them. I'm not even on the radar.
My life is blessed in so many ways. I know it, and I'm thankful for it. But sometimes I miss having parents and siblings. Sunday was one of those days, and so was Monday. Now that I've written about it and prayed about it and processed it a bit more, maybe Tuesday will be better.