Although the holidays are now behind us, a recent December 24 article, “Christmas With My Homeless Aunt” is still well worth a read. In her article, author Janet Mackenzie Smith, writes about her father’s struggle to help her homeless aunt who was also a substance abuser.
Before her recent death, her aunt cycled through rehabilitation, halfway houses, hospitals, tent cities and motels. She writes,
He’s given her help whenever he’s had the opportunity, but mostly he’s had to show his love by bearing witness. Living every day with the knowledge of his sister’s voided life. Feeling the fury that the facts of her life ignite.
He doesn’t simplify or ignore or move on from or gloss over or swallow back memories. He refuses to look away, refuses to sugar coat, refuses to accept or deny. He refuses to forgive, and he refuses to forget. He refuses to say there weren’t other possibilities, constant in his refusal of the solace of fatalism. And, with her death, he now refuses the comfort of the clichés on offer.
He loved her by bearing witness. And, in his grief, bearing witness is how I love him.