I’m one of “those” kids whose tuition bill comes to $50,000 a year, and Mom & Dad simply write the check.
My family’s financial status and stability grant me a level of privilege, opportunity & freedom that I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand.
So what could I possibly have to be ungrateful for? I do not know the burden of debt or that of financial ruin. I don’t know what it’s like to work your way through college or to send money home to keep your family afloat.
My dad’s job keeps my family afloat. I laugh at the irony of that sentence.
You see, sometimes I imagine a butcher’s table in the office of financial services. And in order to finalize the tuition check, someone has to be sacrificed… I’m almost four years into this ritual and I’m still not sure whether it’s my dad lying on the block or if I am the real sacrifice. Has he sacrificed himself for my family’s financial stability, my education, our social status? Or is our story more like Abraham and Isaac’s but God didn’t intervene… has my dad placed my family upon the altar for his own gain?
He’s a nice businessman. Most of the time he is in another city. Gaining status with his airline carrier and hotel business. Who knew there was a level above Platinum? He has a major corporation to run, and he does it well.
But even when he’s home, in his favorite chair, he’s not with us. He is entrenched but also enthroned in his own stress and rage and work. My dear mother has been the slain lamb before the king far too many times. Mom vowed in sickness and in health, did she know that would include in wrath and excuses, too? I have learned that one needs not bear a knife to cut the heart; no threatening bullet to make you question your very worth. The tongue is a weapon—and though it can sing praise in Sunday morning church, it can lash utter destruction over Sunday brunch. The nice businessman I love has also ushered in the deepest pain of my life.
Thoughts of home carry that eerie resonance of the organ for me. I tremble at the memory of shouts, yells, and rage. I can hear the echoing silence of my dad’s absence… the times when “work stuff” came before mom’s grief… when our picture-perfect family in public came home to screams, slammed doors and isolated tears. Our hymn is painful.
I have experienced great financial privilege. I have also experienced great familial pain. And I don’t want to use the phrase “cost of privilege” here because I didn’t write this to make light of my privilege. I write it to speak truth to my pain.
I am that kid you talk about: the rich one. My parents paid for my Davidson education. The sacrifice has been offered and accepted. So why am I so ashamed, and why do I feel so desperate for redemption?