birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

All in the Family

I'd like to believe Jane didn't mean anything by it. She probably thought she was offering good advice, even if I didn't ask for it to begin with. It was just a slight, small enough to make an impact, but it was one of those moments, and we've all had them, when I wish I had responded right away, and said exactly what I thought. It happened while I was picking my girls up at her house after a play date with her daughter. They had just spent a few hours in her pool so while the girls were drying themselves off, she pulled me aside gently to say "You know, your girls were talking about your brother and how he died. You should probably tell them that's a topic to keep in the family." I was stunned. What? I didn't know how to respond. All I could muster out was "Sure, uh, okay." Inside I was screaming, They're just 7 year old kids. You can't dictate their feelings. They should be able to talk about their feelings with their friends! More emphatically, how dare you! How dare you tell me how to raise my kids and put parameters on what they should or should not talk about. There was no bullying, no sex, drugs, or rock and roll, nothing inappropriate about what they could be saying except that very possibly her precious daughter now knew what suicide meant.

The big thing is that my brother jumped out of a 4-story building in New York, and died instantly, a few months after 9/11. He was 33, had a history of depression, no real career direction, and decided to end his life one afternoon when my mother stepped out to do some early Christmas shopping. Needless to say, my family was devastated and I didn't hesitate, not for a second, to share what happened with my children. Although they had little understanding of why their uncle would do such a thing, they were sad because they saw how upset I was. To this day, they have made their own decisions about what they want to share with their friends, and not for a second would I have put any limitations on what they should or shouldn't feel and share.

My friendship with Jane dwindled away as the girls made other friends. Still, it didn't prevent me from venting about what she said to other friends. Those who knew her agreed full heartedly, that what she said was so Jane, that in fact they had briefly been friends with Jane, until Jane decided she didn't need them in her life anymore. A well known writer and artist, she is constantly on Face Book, with thousands of "friends," and I still wonder how many slights or turn of phrases she uses on these friends who ooh and aah constantly over every thing she says and does. And yet, I've seen the dark side, and I'm sure she meant "nothing" by it.

Thank You for Your Service

Why Sweat It?