We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are – that is the fact.

10 Mar

Today the sky was a vicious blue, and the air was still. Nothing moved for a moment as I stood at an icy corner, waiting. A pause in a season, to catch it’s sense of self perhaps, shake March a little, like a snowglobe. Winter and spring fighting for their places.

It’s that blue that breaks the tempo after a long winter-the blue that reminds you that all things change, all things come around, nothing, ever, lasts forever.

“…developed a cancer growth in the large intestinal track. The doctor successfully removed a piece of the intestine that had the growth, so all should be well soon.”

In the mail, a letter from my sorta step-grandmother-the woman married to my blood grandfather. The letter came inside a birthday card for Rosalyn, attached to a check. “Don’t worry” it says.

My adoptive mother died of cancer.

My biological grandmother died of cancer.

My biological grandfather has cancer.

Yeah, I’m not worried. Not one bit. Not me, who muttered “well, at least I’m probably in HIS will.”

I’d slap myself for being so crass if it would make a difference.

Thing is, I don’t know how to feel. This man is my family-his blood runs in my veins, my face, briefly, resembles his, the shy smile, the height. I’m his granddaughter-his first born granddaughter, and I can smell the guilt from him a mile away. I’d like to believe it’s not guilt, but love, or at least like. But I’d also like to believe I’ll have a pony and a beach house someday.

He and my grandmother were truly the only people in my biological family who seemed to truly care, who unlike my birth mother, didn’t just throw money in my face to try and fix some perceived slight, 20 years old. My grandparents were the only ones who seemed to truly want to help, to know me. They were the only ones I cared to know, the only two in a large family seemingly disinterested in material’s or money in the bank. The only two who didn’t seem wrapped up in themselves.

My grandmother died, fast, of cancer rocketing through her body. I was 7 months pregnant with Vivian the last time I spoke to her, excited to be carrying their first grandchild, excited to give them that. She told me about everyone else’s problems, told me how proud she was of my half-sister.

She left out the part about the cancer eating her from the inside. She lived 3 weeks past the day Vivian was born. She never knew her name. They told me later that she didn’t want to upset me.

I didn’t cry-what was there to cry for? A body that is technically like mine, DNA I could mimic, follow home? But nothing beyond that point-nothing to say, nothing in common, our lives so very different for only being 40 minutes apart while I grew up.

40 minutes. That’s all that separates a life from another.

My grandmother was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. But I didn’t know her, and I didn’t feel entitled to grief.

I was not included on the death announcement, still just another hidden secret to be ashamed of.

So to see, on paper, the words that could likely turn into him dying, I just wish I had never looked. I unfriended my half-sister on Facebook since the last time I spoke to her she was, frankly, a bit of a bitch, and how do you explain anything to a 21 year old with a single vision? You don’t.

This man is the last link I have to a family that never wanted me, and has never even tried to fill in the blanks for me, never tried to be there. My birth mother has come and gone at will, rejecting me, pushing away. Occasionally an aunt sends a gift, a letter, then nothing. I sit here wondering if this is what family feels like, and if it is, why anyone bothers? I have more family in my father than I have in that entire group of people.

If my grandfather dies, when he dies, It will bring home how close I am to being an orphan, a story I could avoid telling myself for years. I thought finding my birth family would help me close the holes in my heart, help me move on with life.

It’s done nothing but wound me slowly since the day it happened. The farther I get away from it, the more I wish I had never, ever looked.

All I ever wanted was a family to love me, a normal family that wasn’t broken or strained or lying to itself. Meeting these people at 19 was a lesson well learned, one that continues even now.

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7 Responses to “We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are – that is the fact.”

  1. Bon March 10, 2009 at 10:16 pm #

    the voice in this is so solitary, standing alone and tall and brave in the face of sad news that it is hard to know how to reach out with comfort, even though the loneliness of the place you write from is evident. the process of cushioning yourself for the real grief that lurks here is all through the post…the grief for that family, the one that never existed.

    that you deserved.

    and yet when i came to the last line, i wanted to shout, honey, all normal families i’ve ever met are broken or dysfunctional or lying…about something. somewhere. some just do it in ways that aren’t toxic…

    but i think you know. and still it is sad to lose a last link to something you never had. it closes doors, finally, on childhood wishes and needs never met.

    xo

  2. Ms. Changes Pants While Driving March 10, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    oh shitty. i’m sorry. you’re not alone, though. and when do we stop becoming orphans? all of my grandparents are dead. my dad’s dead, my mom’s in a cult (they both were) and we have no contact with her. am i an orphan? i’m close to the rest of my family, my aunts and uncles and cousins and sisters. will i be an orphan when all of them die? or am i already an orphan?

    are we orphans because our parents/grandparents die? or is it just a feeling? an easy category to put ourselves into?

  3. Ms. Changes Pants While Driving March 10, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    i like my avatar.

  4. Hannah March 11, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    What Bon said. And I know how hard it is to have a blood family that you have no connection to. Words don’t help much. Know that I understand what you’re going through, and I’m sending you lots of love along the trans-canada.

  5. Jennifer March 11, 2009 at 10:22 am #

    You do have a family that loves you.

    You don’t have to be blood relations to know that.

  6. nursemyra March 13, 2009 at 9:06 am #

    I’m sorry meeting your birth relatives didn’t work out for you like it did for me.

    Lots of people today choose who will be their “family”. At least that way you might avoid all the bitching and bickering that goes on between those with blood ties

  7. Dr. Phill's Cat November 21, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    it makes me feel guilty for having a good family…

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