This is uncomfortable.

A week ago, I composed the most uncomfortable email I’ve ever had the displeasure of sending. This has been the year of awkward family confrontations. My grandparents were the recipients; in this email, I confessed–with attempted tact–that I had disowned their son. I was squirming with discomfort after I hit send, then I kept squirming for seven days because that’s how long it took for them to respond.

During that time, I asked myself the questions I thought they’d ask so that I could best prepare my answers. I believed I could role-play my grandparents in my head, which is impossible because they’re so old that Opa told me how he no longer sees Napoleon as a figure from a long time ago. Yet, I still obsessed over my grandparents’ anticipated response.

I considered pointing out that my siblings and I all moved out long before we were legal adults. I’d perhaps point out that we also all lived far away from our parents at one or more times in our lives, and it wasn’t to pursue a post-secondary education nor a career. I could mention how kids don’t put a thousand-kilometre buffer between their loving parents willy-nilly.

Also, I was to point out how it would make the most sense that, up until now, I was the one who appeared to have the healthiest relationship with Dad, especially considering how I’m also the child who’s lived outside his area code for the longest. After all, he’d been mostly wholesome during our epistolary relationship.

What disappoints me the most is how I didn’t realize the problem with him sooner.

For one week, I dealt with this all-consuming worry while things were slow at work, not granting my brain any distractions. I drank bottomless green tea and held back tears. A few days ago, I asked one of my superiors if I could help elsewhere, knowing that I’d be tucked away in the basement, out of public view. The list of people who have not seen me cry at work is… short. Who wants to be known as the person who cries at work?

A shivering Lemongrab holding his knees turns around. When he is facing forward, his rind splits off his face, exposing his bugged-out eyes.

At last, my phone notified me of a new email in Outlook from Opa. My heart started pounding. I had spent the week setting myself up to expect the worst. Was all that mental preparation going to pay off?

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