I recently finished Celeste Ng’s book, Everything I Never Told You. My book group discusses it tomorrow – a brilliant, incisive, heartbreaking, and terribly, terribly real story. A friend of mine said it’s about missed opportunities. It’s also about forgiveness, suppressed hopes, and love. The story catches hold on page one and never lets up.
As the title suggests, the book’s core is an exploration of things not shared with loved ones. In my experience, family dysfunctions and tragedies grow more from things unsaid than from things said, but both – the said and the unsaid – can lead to trouble. How do you know when to speak and when to keep quiet?
I err on the overshare side, not just too personal, but redundant. Over the weekend Nellie stopped me in the middle of a pregnancy story; “Yeah, Ma… the time when….You’ve told us that a hundred times.” She felt bad when my face fell. Later, when I launched into another instructive story, she smiled and nodded attentively. I saw through her, though. It was not a hearing-this-for-the-first-time nod. She was being kind.
“This is another one I already told you, isn’t it?”
She smiled. “Yup.”
That made me want to hug her.
It’s okay if there are never-tell things, even between loved ones, but I hope they are rare. I far prefer frankness, even if it’s uncomfortable. Frankness, though difficult to hear, tends to be the more loving alternative, especially when it comes with a gentle delivery.
My 60th year in 60,000 words
Day 40: 246 words, TOTAL = 6034; 53,966 remaining
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.