Blood May Well Be Thicker Than Water

December 3, 2007 at 8:22 am (Uncategorized)

But frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn! The weekend was a perfect reminder of why this particular platitude has never really resonated with me.

First, there’s that uncanny mental telepathy I have with some of my friends. We’re not related to each other by blood, but in some cases there’s a frankly spooky transmission of signals between us that seems to suggest we’re even more closely connected than siblings could ever hope to be (with the exception of twins and triplets and up – they’re in another league as far as this stuff goes). Haven’t you ever found yourself thinking of a friend you’ve not been in contact with recently, then spent the whole day clearing the decks so that you might actually get a chance to phone them, only to have them pip you at the post some time that same day? This happened to me the other day and stopped me in my tracks. How could we have been thinking the same thoughts at the same time about each other when we hadn’t spoken in a couple of months? Crazy. But it happens quite often, and I can only say I have had no choice but to come to the conclusion that there’s something strange going on here. Blood’s thicker than water, but friendship’s thicker than anything? Maybe. It’s often seemed that way to me.

Case in point. The sole sibling I have in my life ( who sometimes visits and comments on this blog, but I’ll leave it to her as to whether she’d like to be identified as such) called me on Sunday with the news that our other (much younger) sister got married on Saturday. Hmmm. I didn’t get any preternatural sense of that. Nope. Nothing. No mental telepathy there, not even a glancing thought in her direction. Odd, don’t you think? And as my sister and I were talking, I tried to find some feeling inside about the news. There wasn’t anything at all. Just emptiness. I hope she’s happy on some abstract, utterly impersonal level, but I do sincerely hope that for everyone else too. There was no special feeling – not a smidge of solidarity nor a smack of sorority between us. There was nothing, not even sadness.

I can see objectively, of course, that it’s sad – what a shame our family is so screwed, etc – but subjectively the sadness doesn’t really apply. I’ve already been through the sadness. I’ve already searched deep in my heart for the lessons to be learned. I’ve already dealt with the fact that it’s screwed. And now it’s like hearing about a complete stranger, so I wish her well, but I don’t feel anything at all about the news because it’s other and unrelated to anything that means anything to me.

Blood’s looking thinner all the time, if you ask me.

And then there was Saturday. On Saturday I caught up with people I call my ‘family friends,’ but it’s not really an accurate category because the ‘family’ connection, which was through the woman who gave birth to me, no longer exists. They have nothing to do with her and neither do I. But they’ve known me my whole life, and I love them to bits and am deeply grateful to have them with me still. They’re friends, but they’re special friends, even if ‘family friends’ no longer really applies. One of them is like my surrogate mother, we’ve always gotten along famously and had similar taste and basically been simpatico in the extreme. And back in the day, she chose not to have children, so I think I have become just a little like a surrogate daughter to her. I certainly like to think so, at any rate. What is utterly indisputable is that she plays a role in my life that no one of my blood relations plays. And by a strong majority, most of my blood relations play no part at all.

Then of course there’s Llewie, and his family. I’m very lucky I’ve been able to join their family and I love them dearly, but of course there’s no blood between us yet because Llew and I are yet to have children. But Llew and I, even without this blood tie, constantly read each other’s minds. Constantly. So much so that “Get your own brain” is now a conversation standard around here. He’s the closest person to me, all without that supposedly crucial ingredient.

I’m very grateful for my sister’s friendship, and I guess in our case the blood issue does play a part, because she’s the only one in the entire world who truly gets it, who truly knows where we’ve come from. She’s the only person who knows how it feels. But I’m friends with her because I like and respect her, not because we have a blood connection. You might have figured out by now that I don’t equate love to blood ties. I know it works for many people – I’ve seen it in action and I think you’re all so lucky, those of you that have that extra layer of love with all the people whose blood you share – but it’s just not the world as I’ve found it. So I hope you don’t mind if I say that it seems to me that being related doesn’t entitle anyone to anything, it’s just a ‘nice to have.’ And for all that, thanks to my sister, because she’s nice to have indeed.

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3 Comments

  1. kate said,

    There is another saying that ends ‘you can’t pick your relatives’. I am not sure what argument that is supposed to prove!

    As someone who has had the priviledge of parenting both biologically and non-biologically related children I have often questioned the sanctity of blood ties. Don’t get me wrong, knowledge for identity purposes is always a good thing, but the truly horrific cases covered in the media over the last couple of months must make us question the emphasis on ‘natural’ parents- a contradiction in terms of those parents if I ever heard one!

    I am lucky to have a ‘family of the heart’ with whom I share my life, laughter, love and tears if not my DNA. Blood may be thicker than water but, excuse the language, so is shit.

  2. doctordi said,

    Ha ha ha, that’s very funny, Kate – all the funnier for being so true! Nice to have a chuckle so early in the day. I think ‘family of the heart’ is a good way of explaining what I mean – you don’t mind if I use that some time, do you?!
    x

  3. kate said,

    Sure! Glad to make you smile!

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