Remember that time in junior high when you were looking for a place to sit in the lunch room, and the people you normally sat with were all away at band camp or on a field trip or home sick or you just didn’t have any friends and you genuinely couldn’t find any place to sit because you just didn’t belong?
That actually happened to me at my Mom’s funeral.
I had just gotten my cake and coffee… (Which is truly weird that the local grocery store provided complimentary “refreshments” in the form of cake at a funeral. What is that? Cakes are usually congratulatory things. What is the take away from a cake at a funeral?
Congratulations on your achievement!
Way to go!
You did it!
ANYWAY, I digress. I had just gotten my cake and coffee and I looked out over the church social hall and…
I had nowhere to sit.
I couldn’t sit with those people. They had their group.
I couldn’t sit with these people. They had a group too.
Those people… sure… but… that would just be uncomfortable.
In a sea of family members, friends and acquaintances, I genuinely had nowhere to sit.
Typically, I would have sat with my husband or my mom.
And one had taken off with a married mother of three and the other was lying in a casket upstairs so…
I remember I froze. And I almost dropped my cake and my coffee and took off running.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I awkwardly wandered over to where my eldest sister and her family were sitting. I awkwardly sat down. And I awkwardly said, “Can I sit with you guys? I don’t actually have any family here to sit with.”
And my sister grabbed my hand and said, “We’re your family and we will always be there for you.”
And as I tried to choke back the tears I remember thinking… “Sure. Until I you head back to California and I only see you once every three years.” But instead, I just said, “Thanks.”
But that cynical thought? Not so cynical anymore.
Since that funeral, I’ve seen my siblings maybe once if I’ve been lucky. Two live on opposite ends of the country. One wants to move to South America. And numbers five and six are so busy with their own families they hardly have time to feed their own children, let alone set up time to see their youngest sister.
It’s a miserable existence.
I saw no one for Easter.
I saw no one for my birthday.
Thanksgiving was a forced issue that turned into an awkward obligatory occasion that only happened because Mom had passed a mere matter of weeks prior.
A couple of people gave some half-hearted invitations for Christmas… except for the one good sister who I actually went to visit.
And now, another holiday rears its ugly head and I’m forced to answer questions from well-meaning friends and coworkers who ask, “What are you doing for the Fourth? Is your family getting together?”
And instead of being honest and telling them, “No. We don’t see each other anymore.” I just nod and smile and say, “Yep!” Because admitting the truth is just too pathetic.
How did I become the person with nowhere to sit? No one to visit? No one who cares?
I don’t mean to have a pity party, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I was thrilled when a coworker noticed a creepy stalker guy sniffing around and had a few words with him on my behalf. Seriously? I’m that overjoyed about someone caring enough about me to tell a guy to buggar off?
I need my family back. And if they’re not interested, I need a make-shift family. I need some people who actually care. I need more than my cat.
Because I genuinely have nowhere to sit.