November 10, 2020:

I opted out.

There were too many lies for a child to keep straight, too many contexts to remember. Which lie to tell under which circumstance. Stressful, baffling. And because I knew I'd been lied to I learned to disbelieve anything any of them said.

Strange rural cult of death and denial. All the sorrows and the deaths which trace to that one blinkered hillbilly's false Victorian morality. With forgiveness and compassion there'd be so fewer sorrows in the world.

My conclusive act of revolt was refusal to attend. Why did they even invite me? The previous time they'd been so dismissive. All the previous times, they'd been so dismissive. I felt the same. We were always dismissive of one another. Eventually I grew to articulate that reality right out loud.

There are two sides to this story. I don't mean mine and theirs. Rather, his and hers, the maternal grandparents whose teenage Ozarkian trysting led to so much destruction. Their daughter chose one over the other. I was right to opt out of both sides. They were her world, not mine. They were not my fantasy, and they were each equally culpable.