This coming Monday I am confronting a deep pain that I have carried with me for over a year now. I am going to visit my family five hours away and I have every intention of letting them know that by not attending the funeral of my son, they have hurt me very deeply. I'm bringing Calvin's book so that if they choose, they can meet my son and see what he endured in his short life. I have tried to speak of Calvin over the phone a few times with my grandmother until she snapped at me one time and told me that all I ever talk about anymore is my dead son. It cut me to the core. I was absolutely gutted by her comment and since then have merely muttered, "I'm fine", when asked how I am doing. It's awful to live with the knowledge that there is such little care about my feelings, so little love, that my family could pass on coming to the funeral of a child who was very much wanted and loved by my husband and myself. To be honest, the day of Calvin's funeral, even though I was in a complete daze, I was very much aware of their absence. I never even received a sympathy card. It has made me bitter towards my remaining family, the few relatives I have left on my mother's side. Some days I wonder if I should just cut all ties completely because it is clear that there is very little interest in my life. The reason I keep hanging on is my mother. My mother, my sole caretaker when I was a child is dying. She has been in the terminal stages of MS for years now, any little infection could kill her. My mother is someone I love with my whole heart despite the rocky time we went through during my teenage years. While I am extremely grateful for my grandmother's complete devotion to my mother, dealing with her has been a nightmare. To say I am intimidated by this ninety-one year old woman is an understatement. I'm literally terrified of having to have this conversation with her.
It's amazing to me how when I talk of my grandmother and my relationship with her people tend to laugh or dismiss her mean streak as age. I can probably only count on one hand the number of visits I've had with her since I was a teenager where she hasn't made me cry. On one hand, I love her so very much and I admire her strength for enduring so much pain and hardship in her life. My grandmother came from a very poor family in Ireland and in the early 1920's travelled by steamer (in steerage) to Canada where her parents hoped to live a new life. Her mother died on the voyage over of tuberculosis and when they landed in Canada, her father gave all five kids up for adoption. My grandmother, being the oldest was the only one who never got a family. She lived in foster care most of her life in very poor conditions and was treated basically as a slave. She definitely had her share of hard work growing up. Part of her was damaged during those years though, the emotional part of her took such a beating that she became bitter and unable to empathize. She has very little tolerance for things that she doesn't agree with and she has no qualms about speaking her mind if things don't meet her approval. At best, her tirades are embarassing, especially when she goes off in public. At worst, she has hurt me so deeply by attacking everything in my life I am sensitive about until I have been crying in hurt and frustration and there's nothing I can do but sit there and take it. Truthfully, there are many times that if she hadn't been old and if I didn't feel indebted to her for taking care of my mother that I would have liked to have punched her in the mouth for some of the cruel things she has said to me. At the same time, she can be so kind and generous it's like Jekyll and Hyde. She makes me feel like an infant for the most part even though I now tower over her in height. To say I am looking forward to this confrontation is a joke but it's something I have to do for me and for my son.
I think one of the reasons that Shane and I have had for the most part such a good marriage is that we both come from families where we have felt disappointment. I think the disappointment we have experienced growing up made us realize what we wanted for ourselves and our children. I wanted my children to feel loved most of all, to know they are valued. I wanted my children to feel secure and safe within the confines of our family and know that they could count on their dad and I to be there for them no matter what we may face down the road. I have been told many times by not only my therapist but by others that I cannot continue to let the lack of interest in my life that my family has, keep hurting me. I have been told to "create" the family I had always wished for growing up. For some reason, I can't let go. I can't let go of the hurt I have felt by my family's apathy in regards to Calvin's life and death. I can't let go of the feeling of being silenced by my grandmother when she told me that all I do is talk about my dead son. I cannot let go of the disappointmet that my family who looks so wonderful on the outside, has very little substance on the inside. This trip may break my ties altogether or it may help them realize that I am here and I am hurting. I'm not holding out any hope for one of those "lightbulb" moments where they all get it and apologize even though it would be nice. I guess I'm mainly doing it so that I can purge some of the crap I've been carrying around for a year now and let it go. I need to do it to honour Calvin and myself, and even though I am scared to death of how it will go, I know that afterwards I will have done what I have set out to do and for that I can be proud. Wish me luck...
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