Monday, December 5, 2011

The Airing of Grievances

It's almost 13 years now since my mom left the Earth.  The anniversary of her death is just days away.  She died on Dec. 8th, the day before my dad's birthday.  I can't believe it's been so long.  Thirteen years.  It was such a tough time for me (and still is) but I remember getting a bit of comfort from her side of the family.  My aunts and uncles assured me that they'd still be there for us and that they were just a few hours drive.  One of my aunt's, Aunt Bea, even went so far as to say she'd be a mother to me since my mother couldn't be around.  It really touched my heart that day.  It made the hurt a tinsy bit less though my heart was still pretty heavy.

I took Aunt Bea for her word.   I was in college and I was getting along good enough.  I'd call Aunt Bea occasionally and sometimes she'd call me.  But I was never really offered or extended an opportunity to spend any actual time with her.  It was a lot of, "maybe we'll get together some time" sort-of-stuff.  "No biggie, she must be busy," I thought.

Then, somewhere along the line my Aunt Bea had a falling out with her siblings.  My mother was the second of four children leaving behind a brother and two sisters.  The four of them were always in some sort of drama to be honest.  But this time my Aunt Bea ultimately disowned the remaining siblings.  She didn't want to have anything to do with that side of the family any more.  To this day, I have no idea why.  She didn't want to talk to her siblings anymore nor any of their children, a.k.a. my cousins.  But she was still OK to talk to my sister, brother and me, the children of her deceased sister.

I found my husband (then fiance) Nick and was elated to share the joy with her.  But she called me and told me that she didn't want to attend my wedding because doing so would be difficult for her with the other family members there.  I admit, it kinda hurt me.  But, I couldn't force her to attend and I couldn't make it better.

She asked in our phone conversations that I never, ever mention their names again.  Ever.  She didn't want any info relayed to them or vice-versa.  I honored that until the VT massacre happened.  You see, her son, was attending VT at the time (he was a freshman) and I was asked by my other cousin (then and still ex-communicated, cousin M) if I would e-mail Bea and ask if he was OK.  I did.  Then I forwarded the reply from Aunt Bea to cousin M.  But I made a huge mistake.  I accidentally hit reply-all and she saw that I had forwarded the info, i.e. that cousin D. was OK and accounted for, to my cousin M.  I may have also inserted that I thought it was silly that us cousins, having nothing to do with the generation's before squabbles, were forced to communicate this way.  In essence, I betrayed her trust by simply relaying to my cousin that her son was alive and well.

She wrote me that she didn't think it was "silly" and that I had no idea how awful the situation was and that she was cutting me off.   The VT shooting occurred in April 2007.  I haven't heard from her in almost 5 years now.  In the past, I've sent cards, called and left messages of apology with no return, announced the birth of my first two children, etc.  So much time has passed and I still have received nothing in return.   I have cried and cried.

I felt horrible.  I felt like dirt.  I made a mistake and I was not forgiven.

It was only a year ago around this time that I realized how empty her words were back when my mom died and how you can't lose something you never had.  She may not remember her promise to me the day of my mother's funeral 13 years ago, but I do.  I would have been better off if she had never made that promise and she'd just drifted away like I feared would happen when you lose an important link in the family.  Broken promises hurt.  What she did, and is still doing, is hurtful.

Last year, was the first year I didn't send her a Christmas card and I didn't send her a card announcing the birth of my third child either.  It was hard to do.  I'm surprised it so easy for her to cut me out when not sending a card is so hard for me.  But it was her choice to cut me out and it's also her loss.

I'm sure for whatever reason, she was hurt by these other family members, but to bring me into it and use it as an excuse to cut me out of her life is plain old wrong.  I deserve better than that.

Anyway, despite it all, I wish her well.  I pray for her health and happiness and all the good things of this life and the next.  I really do.

So, why am I airing this?  Because I have to get it off my heart and give it to God.  Sometimes you just have to let it out to feel better.

4 comments:

Mrsblocko said...

I totally understand your need to vent and how hard it is when you realize people's words were empty. It hurts so much to let those people go. There's a heaviness in doing so, but also a lightness in the lifting of the burden of a toxic relationship. {{{{{HUGS}}}}

Aliceson said...

Oh M. :(

I know your mom has been gone for several years but I had no idea she passed so close to Christmas. This must be a hard enough time of year anyway, but having to deal with self-centered and thoughtless family members must make it even MORE stressful. I'm so sorry your aunt couldn't overcome her own demons to be there for you like she said she would and like you and your siblings deserved. This sucks!

BTW, when your card arrived here I spent a good 10 minutes looking at it, and once again wished we all lived a little closer. The girls want to know when they can play with your kids again :)

Jill said...

Thinking of you Merritt.

Missy said...

oh Merritt, I was just reading through your blog and came across this entry. I have just gotten to know you a tiny bit through Bible Study at Maple Grove. This utterly breaks my heart. Going through life without your Mom just has to be the hardest thing in the world but then to feel the hurt you've felt by your aunt...I am so sorry for your pain. I will be praying for a mended heart for you. I will also be praying for your aunt that somehow, someway she will see the hurt she has caused so many others. Hugs! xoxoxoxo Missy