I grew up in a small family. Not small in that I didn't have a bunch of aunts and uncles and cousins. Small in the fact that we rarely, if ever got together with them. My maternal grandfather died when I was only 6. My father's parents died when he was young, and the rest of my father's family all lived far away. My mother and her family had a bit of a falling out when I was a child, so we rarely got together. Thanksgiving was always small. And I certainly didn't have close relationships with my relatives.
When I met Aaron's family - what a difference! The first Thanksgiving we had together, I think there were something like 28 people there. All close relatives. I was totally overwhelmed, but I thought wow! This is neat!
As time moved on, I've learned all the ins and outs of the family, and although they do a better job than my family in keeping in touch, I've learned that they aren't as close as they appeared that first thanksgiving. They do get together and have fun at gatherings, but it isn't this close knit group.
In 2009, there was a tough patch that Aaron and his brother's were going through related to Aaron's father. If anyone remembers, my FiL had a stroke before Cam was born. Aaron's brother, a normally abrasive guy, became more so as he navigated being my FiL's power of attorney. Which is understandable. And what's also understandable, in my mind, that he and Aaron butted heads over more than a few things during this time. They yelled at each other. Eventually, they needed to meet in person, and Aaron stated that he would prefer to not meet in our home, because he knew the conversation may become heated, and he wanted to be able to walk away if he needed.
In the middle of all this, Nora died. Aaron's mother asked if there was anything she should do, I remember stating, I know it would mean a lot to Aaron if you could get his older brother to come to the service. She assured me she would do that.
He didn't show up. He claimed that Aaron told him he wasn't welcome in our home. Which was not the case. And I have trouble with the idea that if you yell at a brother, you can't be forgiven (and I know that Aaron did apologize for yelling). Isn't that what family is for, sometimes!? To let it out?! And what is more frustrating that dealing with your 60 year old father's estate?
As the days, weeks and months moved on, we didn't get a lot of support from Aaron's family. The death of our child was treated as though it never happened. Most people came and gave us hugs at the service. After the service, there were only 2 people in that family that kept checking in on us. Making sure we were OK. And Aaron's older brother? To this day hasn't spoken to us or met Maggie.
In two weeks, Aaron's cousin is getting married 2 hours from where we live. We decided that if his big brother chose to attend the wedding, we wouldn't go. Still, to this day, when I think of Adam, it feels like kick in the gut. That a brother was willing to act in the manner, and show no love to a sibling in one of the worst days of his life, it's still shocking to me. It hurts me. And seeing him also reminds me of the days I sat, alone, in my living room, with my two best friends making sure I was OK. Not a family member. Friends. People that I haven't known my whole life. People that I only have ties through friendship. And it hurts still. I will not put myself at a place where I will feel bad.
Just writing this post makes my chest hurt.
More than a few people have told us to 'be the bigger person' and talk to him. Forgive him and move on. And sometimes I think that maybe I should. But then, I feel the hurt again. It's deep. It's painful. And the loss of a child is something I hope no one I know has to experience, but until you do, trust me, you have no idea what you are asking. And I'm pretty sure that Adam's older brother has no concept of the hurt he has caused. I am thankful that he lives all the way across the county, so issues like this rarely come up.... but it's sad nonetheless.
Anyway. I've been stuck. The mother of the bride (who is one of the few people who stuck with us after Nora's death) in this wedding asked me to knit her a shrug. Which is a very easy thing to knit, and I should be done with it already. But every time I sit to knit it, I think about all the reasons I'm not going to the wedding, and it makes me so sad and angry and all that crap wrapped into one. Today I came up with the great idea to pay a friend to finish it up for me. It's like this huge weight has been lifted off my chest.
But I hate feeling stuck. And that is how I feel in this situation. No way out.