The last week has been a whirlwind of activity—fun at the beach with our stepgrandparents, taking them sightseeing, eating new food they’d never eaten before (dim sum) that they loved. I took my FIL surfing, and he caught three waves all by himself! (He didn’t need me at all, lol.) The girls had a blast swimming in the staycation pools with them, going to the beach, DD1 playing cards and monopoly and folding origami with both of them, and DD2 cuddling up with either grandma or grandpa any chance she could get. We even fit in a girls day, DD1 has been asking to get a pedicure for ages, and in fact, we were going to do that earlier, but then I got the stomach flu (see barfmageddon ).
So Saturday, step-MIL, DD1, DD2, and I loaded up in the car and went and got our toenails done, then headed into town for some shopping (DD1 needs a training bra, GASP, and also asked if we could do that when grandma was here), lunch, and we all bought a new pair of shoes, too cute! DD2 told grandma, “I really enjoyed our girls day.” Awwww.
Meanwhile, Hubby and his dad went kayaking across the ocean to a little island that is also a bird sanctuary, a four hour outing, then they had their guys lunch, and we all met back up at the staycation condo for a swim. And we played and talked and laughed and had a wonderful time some more. I just love my hubby’s family so much.
Today, grandma and grandpa get on the big plane and head back home, and DD1 is being quite brave about it. She said, “see you next Sunday!” because we Skype with them regularly, but like DD2 says, it’s so much BETTER when they’re not on the T.V. I marvel at today’s technology that links us together with our people near and far, how I counted the days to see my grandmother when I was little. The school year would take FOREVER to end into summer vacation and then FINALLY we’d make the four hour drive that took another FOREVER to get to our grandmother’s house. I love that the girls love Hubby’s family—and again, since my fathers have passed, and so has my ex’s father, they have bonded with their step-grandpa like little opihis clinging naturally to the rocks by the sea. And Hubby’s family has accepted the girls with all of their hearts. Swoon.
I’ve been teary the past couple of days, in the face of their departing on the big plane. I love Hubby’s family so much, which brings up some kind of primordial fear about losing loved ones, since my loved ones have disappeared over the years. I’m sure it’s related to my adoption story, abandonment is something I’ve long struggled with, sometimes embraced, sometimes clung to, a pre-verbal, primal experience which is another therapy blog story altogether.
But what I was thinking about with my divorce and with building a new life—leaving behind family is the part we don’t talk about as much, or maybe we do, maybe it’s something I haven’t talked about so much. I didn’t just lose a husband, I lost a family. Granted a weird family, but one that loved me in some kind of way, for a time, all the same, and I them, but now those bonds are gone, due to lines drawn in the sand. And I understand that his family has to stand by him, and it wouldn’t make much sense in any other way, just like my family stands by me, but it’s sad anyway. And though the girls will have their bonds, I think somehow it’s okay to be sad and grieve, even though it makes sense to lose the mom who promised that I could bring the girls to see her if the violence didn’t improve, the mom who told me in hushed whispers how she was worried about his temper too, especially with how he treat(ed) DD1, the mom who cried and begged her son to let DD1 out of the locked bathroom that was so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face when she was 3 and a half. The mom who asked him quietly to stop shouting at DD1 after he kicked her in the stomach, only to become the target of his shouting. She no longer looks me in the eye at exchanges and I wonder and worry about her…and I’m sad that she went on the stand and perjured herself, because of the lines in the sand.
I was thinking about my former BIL, who was the one person who stepped in when the girls were targets for their father’s anger, who bore the brunt of the nasty reaction that ensued and the invitations to fight and the whispered (and shouted) degrading threats. At the final stages of our crumbling marriage, the girls were flower girls at the Ex’s cousin’s wedding--this was the last family outing we did together after he moved out, when I was still hoping that somehow he would change, he was in therapy, he would fight for our family and win. I know the girls are in their wedding pictures, and I remember how happy, young, hopeful the couple were, how happy the girls were to stand next to the beautiful bride. I put on a brave face, hoping somehow we would be okay, too. Except then we weren’t. And so a family was lost to me.
I am building a new family now, and it’s full of love and hope and hugs and no secret threats. We are already making plans to see each other again, and hopefully some more of Hubby’s family will be here over the rest of the year. Maybe I’m all emo because my own family is full of so much loss, and experiencing the fun and closeness that Hubby has with his, and by extension, experienced by the girls and me…just fills my heart up so much. (Not that they don’t have their irritations with each other, and every family has drama, but they all get along and genuinely enjoy spending time together!)
And maybe I’m emo, because I’m sad of the loss from before and honestly, I’m scared. Getting married again, I didn’t just marry Hubby, I married his family, too, and if I lost him AND his family, I would just be bereft. The thought of that makes my eyes well.