Monday, June 16, 2014

Pondering Grief

I was born the first grandchild of both families, a fact that my maternal grandmother never forgave me for since she was too young to have a grandchild (she was 54, not that young). It may have been the last time I was first at anything. I could never quite muster up the dedication to be first in my class, once winning the award as "sweetest spirit" in the fifth grade (I was so insulted and disgusted by that award). I was never very athletic, even though I was (am) hyper competitive and used that even when outmatched - once knocking myself out at age six when, in an impromptu downhill ski race against a 12 year old, I tried to take the outside track to win and instead ran into the ski shack at the bottom of the hill.

As a firstborn I ended up behaving more like an adult and parent to my younger brother after my father died, my mother will still joking say 'she was never a child' about me. I quite vividly remember wanting my father to come back, wanting to have a whole family, wanting to have my "real" family claim me, and wanting to be a twin. My therapist claims I was not loved enough as a child, but that's not true, I knew my mother loved me and as an adult I know she did the best she could. I think I just missed having a whole family; the circumstances of my father's death had ripped apart whatever family cohesion had existed before.  The guilt settled on those responsible, they could not be expected to help or become a father figure.

Those of us who have to suffer shouldn't have to suffer this much. If I didn't get a family when I was younger why should circumstances conspire to deny me now? The studies say that the happiest people live in the poorest countries, where even if they don't have money, they have family. And perhaps that's the truth that hurts the most: I have money and live in a first world country and do not have and cannot naturally have a family. I have two wonderful step-children and I love them very much, but am acutely aware I do not belong to them and they do not belong to me. I am like a benevolent aunt, not getting mad at them, rarely correcting behavior, and teaching them inappropriate (hilarious) things.

As my counselor once said, in the cycle of reincarnation maybe this life, this time, is my tragedy.  I didn't have to be first, just eventually, and I wouldn't have even minded spending the money on IVF for a successful pregnancy.  It's hard to reconcile that this is one more thing that I don't get that everybody else does: a father, grandparents, aunts and uncles, children.

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