SHADOW: an imperfect and faint representation; a source of gloom or unhapiness
You ask us to tell our story. We want to, but stories require scenes and scenes require details to make them come alive.
Our story is a story of shadows. Our memories are only available dimly lit and slightly out of focus. Even when we squint we can’t see them clearly. We see outlines – of violence, of tension, of disappointment so deep it forms unbridgeable chasms – but the details never come. The past won’t (perhaps can’t) reveal itself with clarity.
We’ve learned to rely not on our ability to see the details of the past, but rather our ability to feel the shadows pass over our present. We grope along, trying to notice when the air cools and we are walking through the shade of something that remains from a time we cannot see. When we observe contrasts – constant vigilance for turmoil despite peaceful surroundings, self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness despite having accomplished all we set out to do – we are the closest to understanding what is hiding in the blur.
It is a strange thing to have a story of shadows.
The blur provides both freedom to improvise and bondage to doubt.
We have begun to fill in the details based on murmured apologies and implied regret, but the details are still filtered, cropped, and edited before they are given to us. And, to be frank, our desire to see the details is waning.
We are reluctant because too many of us with stories in the shadows have begun to cast shadows of our own.
When we tell the stories of their unwarranted anger, we see reflections of our own tempers. When we tell about the promises they didn’t keep, we must acknowledge the times we have failed to follow through. When we talk about living in the tumultuous wake of booze, it’s hard not to notice several glasses at the table have been topped off multiple times.
We laugh darkly at the craziness we survived, but cringe at the legacy.
The shadows they left still shade our lives and more times than we’d like to admit we’ve cast shadows of our own.
We subscribe in varying degrees, or not at all, to the Bible as truth but there is not one among us who would disagree that the sins of the father are visited upon future generations.