There are very few people that I have been unable to forgive for the stupid things they have said or done. Generally, I don't hold a grudge very long. I may be upset for a reasonable period of time, but as the waves of time wash over my anger, it fades, quiets and disappears.
For example, when I called my high school friend from my hospital bed and she suggested that C. was a test child, you know, so that I "would know what it was like to be pregnant." - well, I actually don't hate her. Mostly I feel sorry for her. How can you really blame someone for having the emotional maturity of a 16 year old when all she worries about is when can I see the coolest new band in Vancouver? She is an emotional child; I don't hate her. I'm not even angry anymore. (more bewildered, actually...).
Sorry, off on a tangent there.
But I just read this post and it has me thinking about that third that have behaved in a way that I would never have imagined it possible. And there are two faces that are burned into my retina, smiling and happy and so out of reach; people who should have been there, but weren't.
When the phone call went out to my BIL/SIL on that cold, dark, impossible January night, I tried to be reasonable when they told us they couldn't come. They couldn't bring their young children on a 2 hour road trip on such a cold night. I tried to ignore the voice in my head that was pointing out that almost every other person in the room had travelled the exact same distance, in the exact same weather, at the exact same time.
When my BIL arrived alone the next day, I tried to understand his reasons for not bringing his wife and my nieces - people who I needed to hold in my arms and to hold me. He probably gave reasonable explanations - I honestly no longer remember.
I still struggle to understand why they chose not to bring the kids to the funeral. But that was a parenting decision that I am forced to respect. Though I do respect it, I missed the living, beautiful faces of my nieces on that horrible, horrible day. And I felt like the questions I was forced to answer in the weeks that followed might have been curtailed by having the girls there.
There was no doubt in my mind, however, that they would be there for us, no matter what, and that they would understand. My SIL won a battle with cancer in her early 20s, but lost her ovaries in the process. They built their family through adoption. They would know something of loss and of starting over. In this train of thought, I leaned as heavily as a thought I could. I leaned like someone who needed to be carried.
I wasn't sure what was happening when they didn't seem to be checking in on us as much as I thought they might. Or why it suddenly became harder to get them on the phone.
A couple of months passed. Then came the conversation with my SIL when I shared an experience that was very difficult for me and she tried to make me see it through the eyes of someone much further down the road of grief. I was hurt that she tried to push me like that. I didn't say anything, but I think she sensed my hurt and that was when the Great Deep Freeze of '05 began.
When I called in July and left the message on their machine (Hi, it's me. We aren't doing very well. Maybe we could come on our days off and spend some time with the girls - take them to the water park while you are at work. I think it would do us good to spend time with them), and we didn't get a call back... well... I knew the Deep Freeze was now in full effect.
She was tired of me. Maybe, they were tired of us (don't know about that, though. Maybe it was all me...)
Since then, we might see them 5 times in a year. Maybe talk on the phone 3 times. A mere fraction of our previous interaction. Sadly, these were people that I thought would be one of the foundations of our lives. When I married my husband, I was thrilled to be gaining an older brother and sister. Advice, camaraderie, growing families together - it was going to be like a Hallmark movie.
Where are we now? They screen our calls. Last year, my BIL declined to become BB's godfather. My husband and I speak resentful words about them in the privacy of our own home. Every interaction with them seems to bring a new low.
I don't know what to do. The obvious thing would be to talk about it, right? But, talk about WHAT? It's like the early years of Global Warming - no one had any proof. Scientists couldn't point to statistics and data and explain exactly how they knew what was happening. It is all stuff that happens in unspoken and unremarkable ways.
There are no specifics. I suppose I could say "I think you don't like me much. I think you screen my calls. I think you avoid me. I want to be your friend and your sister and an involved aunt, but you don't seem interested. I want my son to know you and your children. I want the Deep Freeze to end."
However, studied in the bold light of day, that type of conversation seems like utter nonsense. I cannot think of any scenario wherein I would feel any sense of assurance that this conversation would get me anywhere. I just don't think it would fly.
So, if you've stayed with me this long, I have to say I don't know what to do. Maybe there is nothing to be done. Maybe I need to get about the business of getting over it and moving on (ha!).
I am sad that these people aren't in my life the way I expected.
Thanks for listening.
P.S. Of course, there are so many intricacies and subtleties that I am glossing over here. I understand, intellectually, many of the choices they have made over the past 3.5 years. It's my heart that is calling foul, not my head. It is all complicated and layered and drives me to distraction.