Saturday, November 6, 2010

This is my truth

There is always someone you offend when you tell the truth. I took down the previous post in deference to my brother. I used his words without his permission and perhaps that was enough of a reason. I only used them because I found them beautiful- but I should have asked him. That was wrong of me.
We disagree on the whole of my post and I allowed myself to be censored because I love him. And it's because he is in so much pain that he behaved with great demands, so I forgive him. He's in great pain. He would have demanded I take the post down had I not offered. I could have taken down his words and left mine up but without the balance of both, it would have really sucked because it wasn't the whole story. There is balance to a life.
I am circumspect and thoughtful and in my mind, there is only both sides of the person to me. It comes out in the wash. Dirty laundry has a way of stinking when you leave it in the corner and try to pretend it doesn't exist just because someone is dead.
I will always remember my grandmother as a wonderful woman with an irrational temper whose capacity to hold grudges was nearly epic. Whose capacity to love and care for her family and to sacrifice herself to see the right thing done was equally epic, not to mention her tenacity and artistic talent.
But for me, one without the other is only the half of the picture. It was a triumph for her when she did let a grudge go. A supreme and amazing feat. You would have to know that bad part about her in order to appreciate who she was.
And the truth of it was, like everyone else in this world, she did some appalling things that hurt people. And she did some wonderful things that inspired people.
I told the truth. That is enough to make someone mad at you.
It has always been enough to make someone mad at you. Nothing I said was a lie or slander or anything of the like and in my own way, I felt I was respectful to a well rounded view of which I presented both sides because good and bad exists in a person.
I expose my bad as well as my good, because to pretend that it doesn't exist is only letting the stinking dirty laundry pile up.
So now there are no words that are mine to say anything about my dead cousin whose funeral was yesterday. She is only dead- that is all I feel I can say- and because it was insisted to me that only good must be said about the dead, and even though I don't believe that with any part of my mind or body, I will refrain from saying anything at all because it has been made clear to me that I am not supposed to tell the whole truth, and if I can't, then I won't say anything at all.
I hope when I die that people tell the truth about me. I don't want to be remembered as a saint. Because I am not. And I never will be. And I don't want to be.
If they whisper "Vanessa was a real bitch in the morning."
I know they will have remembered me.
I don't want to be remembered for who I wasn't.
I know that when they speak of me, I will hope they will have been fond of all of me, my annoying traits, my deep faults, and the things that made me wonderful to someone. I know my best friend will remember how annoying it was that I never knew where my shoes were and that I was always late. It will make her smile. She will also remember how we fought and when she does, it will probably bring her a twinge of pain.
Maybe some will learn just hearing about my mistakes. God knows, I did. And I made a lot of them. Maybe I can be someone's cautionary tale. By the way, I have a shoe tree now. I always know where my shoes are. I can't be who I am without those huge mistakes. I don't want you to forget my virtues but I think I got a lot of them through the horror of my missteps.
But mostly I just want to tell the truth, and I am sorry if that makes some people mad. I am not without compassion.
When I find a better way to remember my dead cousin without using someone else's words to balance out the truth of what I knew, I will do so. I admit I made a mistake publishing his public speech. And that is fine, I admit it was ill advised. I understand why he sees this as disrespectful, though it was meant as anything but- I did not mean to cause anyone more pain. And that, most of all is why the post is down.
Because the living have feelings, and however unintentionally, I hurt someone and that is something I have to take responsibility for. I regret that I hurt someone I care about.
I wish that part had not happened. It is an unfortunate side effect of speaking one's mind. It was the tragedy and the beauty I shared that I hoped would touch people. And it did. It really did. I am sorry that part was missed in the hurt feelings. My point was always that no matter what our mistakes were, inside us is that golden child.
I can't make the truth different than what it is.
And the truth of this is, you can't change what has happened. It is very personal how one chooses to remember a loved one lost.
The fact is, the truth has always hurt. And it will continue to do so. When I was sixteen, I walked out of the grocery story, driving off with my mother's car and left her there, stranded. She had to walk home in the rain carrying a gallon of milk. I was a selfish bitch that day. If I live the rest of my life, I don't think I can ever make that moment up to her. It is probably the worst thing I have ever done. I cannot make that act go away. I did that. If someone tells that story at my funeral, I would hope they also would mention that in committing that act, it changed me forever. There are few moments in life that will haunt you forever, and change you. Luckily, I have had an opportunity for redemption and forgiveness. Not everyone gets that.
Some people die before they get that chance. Sometimes people just die as who they are. The problem with dead is that dead is dead. Nothing you can do about it.
A eulogy is knowledge of good. Good words said at a funeral. I did not say words at a funeral, if I had, they might have been different from what I wrote here yesterday. I'm going to defend what I did and what I wrote and my right to say my words but also say that I wasn't completely right about it, either. And later, I am sure I will have more to say, as writers always do.


Anonymous said...

Dear Vanessa,

I had no idea you were pouring out soul in "blog". What a courageous thing to do. It is as though you are in my presence talking to me, I feel that connected to your words. It is a valuable virtue to not only admit an error but to take on the feelings of the offended party. A beautiful apology. To me, heart - rending.
Please, keep writing.

VanessaMRR said...

Thank you, I appreciate it.

Contra Yogini said...

I hope when I die that people tell the truth about me. I don't want to be remembered as a saint. Because I am not. And I never will be. And I don't want to be.
If they whisper "Vanessa was a real bitch in the morning."
I know they will have remembered me.

You are an incredibly moving and powerful writer. I've been missing something for the past month and a half for not having read this! Thank you for posting and thank you for your thoughts and stories, as always. "Where have you been?", indeed. ;) You inspire me to write my own truth. Thank you.