Saturday, July 06, 2013

Losing a Family

Reading through the comments on this post by Dooce is a very sad experience.

In the last one year I lost my in-laws. Not the immediate in-laws because them I suppose I never had. However, Vicky comes from a large and varied joint family and in these seven years I have spent a certain amount of time with them, learning things about them, sharing things with them. Cousins and aunts and uncles and kids, all related by marriage, all very welcoming and mostly a great deal of fun. As the situation between Vicky and his mother deteriorated these relationships, well, they frayed at the edges. Smiles became a little strained, welcomes were a little less enthusiastic, phone calls stopped being returned. I am still in touch with a couple of relatives, but most of the family have, not surprisingly, requested that we sort out our mess. If, in a gathering, the invitation must be sent either to us or to Vicky's mother, we are, quite naturally, left out. And so it goes.

It broke my heart last year, especially when one aunt-in-law requested that we not visit for fear of the negativity it would generate and later another one, who had once been a source of immense support to me, explained that she would rather stay out of it all. These are all old people and I have never wanted them to take sides, so I've never pressed the matter. But the situation hurt me very badly.

My friends, with the best intentions in the world, counsel me to accept that this never was my family. And I do understand (and indeed prefer) that my in-laws take Vicky's mother's side, if take a side they must. It has been borne in on them that they must take a side. Yet I cannot explain this deep sense of loss. I liked being a daughter-in-law, one of many. I liked the various heirarchies and complicated stories of this big family. I liked seeing my son among his cousins. I liked seeing Vicky with his cousins. When the family gets together, there is always laughter and this deep sense of a bond. I liked all of that. It's what I understand of marriage, this merging of families.

Vicky and I haven't got a divorce yet, but I lost a family anyway.

8 comments:

dipali said...

It's really sad, Sue. I hope that things get better all around.

dipali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AKM said...

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15394

Sue said...

Dipali -- I don't expect this particular situation to get any better, you know.

AKM -- Thank you. I have always felt comforted by Dickinson.

Rohini said...

*hugs*

Sue said...

Ro -- Thanks

Pratiti said...
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Pratiti said...

Hugs, Sunayanadi. Back to your blog after a long time. I don't think my experience is in any way comparable to yours, but I recently emerged from the end of an almost decade long relationship, and in some ways, I treated it like a marriage, and I too, somehow, think of marriage as a merging of families, and now, his mother's birthday and my inability to get her flowers, or memories of his grandmom's mangsher jhol break my heart more than his absence from my life...hugs.