November 12, 2016
Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. Again, the two of us spent it by ourselves, alone. Again, I’ve had to try and remember to forgive rather than to allow anger, resentment, and broken-heartedness rule over my heart. I am not always successful at that, but I do try, by calling on the Lord Jesus for His help in my achieving what seems the impossible for me. The reason is because, for the last 10 years, since we lost our son to the war in Afghanistan, we’ve spent that time almost completely alone here in our home, yet family live so close. As soon as he was killed, it seemed to give them the opportunity perhaps they were seeking, in order to try and justify turning their backs on us. Yet, how in the world anyone could ever use a death, as with our son, as a justification for staying away, and never bothering to be of any consolation, as they have, is beyond me. I never would have believed it of them if I had not experienced it first hand, and the pain it caused both of us will only leave my heart, at least, by the grace of Almighty God.
If you’ve never met with the kind of strange behavior from family that I have, from those whom I honestly thought were members of my own family, albeit my marriage, but family nevertheless, it’s hard to fathom what I’ve experienced since Bobby’s death. Actually, in my case, it involved much more than the neglect of other family members. It involves hostility directed at me, spread through back-biting gossip, that took me by complete surprise. It apparently had begun to fester, and break the surface, shortly after my husband’s mother passed away. For some reason, it seemed to emboldened those who believed whatever criticism, or bad thing, was said about me, behind my back, by other family members who obviously had hostility towards me that I either didn’t know about at all, or that I thought was far less venomous than it turned out to be.
Things, that I had no idea were even being said about me, by those whom I never would have thought capable of such venom, and back-stabbing. I never saw this coming. I trusted in the idea of family. Families may have their differences, but they never forget they are family. Family forgives, for the sake of love of one another. Family understands when the whole world might not. Family is there for you when no one else would be. Family cares, family helps, family is sacred. No gossip ever succeeds within family. Love prevails, tongues never wag unfairly, within family.
That’s my view of family. If a transgression occurs, family deals with it with love, and understanding. Talking things out, and forgiving one another, is the way family reacts to turmoil within it. No gossip passes the lips of family members about one another, especially to strangers, acquaintances, and pseudo-friends. Complaints about family are only made to others who are considered family, by blood or by deep, long term friendship, and dealt with through understanding, with the hope of reaching a level of forgiveness, and understanding. That’s what I grew up believing, automatically, about family. Nothing else on this earth can surpass family in a person’s life. No other place is as safe as with family.
Yet, that’s not what I discovered within this family. Betrayal seemed to be the way of things, but, ultimately, not with any other family member but me. I knew there was a lack of understanding as to what I was suffering from, beginning right after my son, Thomas, was born in 1974. Yet, there was never any occasion on which I had the chance to try and talk about what had happened, and how I was dealing with it, with anyone that I considered family. It wasn’t until recently that I even realized the truth: that, not once, had anyone in this family ever even sat down and had a cup of coffee or tea with me, and just chatted with me about anything and everything–not once. Not once had I ever actually sat and had a genuine conversation with anyone in this family either, yet we’d had many opportunities for that to happen. It never did. No one had ever talked with me about anything personal at all, in all the years I’d been a member of this family. No one ever even asked me how I was getting along, or how the boys were doing–nothing.
Therefore, I realized, that not one member of this family could possibly know me well enough to even form a legitimate opinion of me. The “me” they gossip about, therefore, is a “me” they’ve created out of their own imaginations. That “me” doesn’t even really exist, but is just a creation of their own. They’ve created a version of “me” out of their own hearts, without the use of actual knowledge about “me”. So, whenever they speak of “me”, they only speak of the “me” that they’ve put together, using nothing more than their own mere imagination.
I found out recently that I had been blamed for even the fact that my boys, back when they were very young teens, both had begun to resent the fact that their cousins’ parents never called, or wrote to us, or were a part of our lives, other than in theory. I heard third hand, that I had been accused of poisoning my sons against the other family members, due to my own jealousy of their social position and wealth. That was a lie, yet no one was brave enough to say that to my face, in order to find out from me if I’d done that, or not. Especially since my sons could provide testimony on my behalf that I had never once spoke against those particular family members. My older son was the one who realized how things were, and had voiced his hurt over it, and eventually his anger at it, and who blamed it on their wealth, and social position. I tried to make him let go of that hostility against them, but since he could see the situation for himself, reasoning against how he viewed it was difficult at best. Yet, he seemed to recover from that attitude as soon as members of the family began paying attention to him, and his new family, not long before his death. All he had needed was to believe they cared, and see some of that caring for himself. He’d never had that before then, from them.
Now that he’s no longer here, though, it’s his dad and me who are finding out what he’d realized as a child. That, within their hearts, there’s never been a place for us. While he lived, that never showed so openly. Now, it does. Now, since his death in 2006, none, except one, have even bothered to come by our home to visit with us, and now even he never comes to see us any longer. None of them, except that one, ever called us just to see how we were doing. None, but one that was sent here by his father, ever even came here to be with us after we were given the news of his death. Not the day he died, nor any day after that. Instead, 6 days later, some family members wanted us to meet them for ‘lunch’ at some local restaurant. Bob and I were barely conscious, yet because we were so desperate for consolation, and being with those who might care about us, and how we were doing since Bobby’s death, we met them for that lunch. When I felt so desperate I thought I’d die on the spot, and I said that I feared I wasn’t going to make it, my desperation over the loss of my son was treated as though it was only over a dog that had died, and not much more important than that. I was told that I’d be alright, about like the vet might tell someone who’s beloved pet had just passed away, minus the consolation the vet would likely show the bereaved pet owners.
So, tonight, when I saw a picture of our son posted on facebook, by a well-meaning friend who knew Bobby personally, then I noticed it had been up for 15 hours yet no one had even bothered to click ‘Like’, or had made a single comment, I began to lose it. I know I need the help of the Lord in order to forgive the monstrous way we’ve been treated over the last 10 years, and over how badly we’ve been neglected during all these years, as though we didn’t count for anything at all. But having things like that happen just makes it harder for me. I could say much more about what’s gone on, but I’ll spare myself from having to even think about it. I just wish with all my heart my case against this family could be taken to court, during which they would need to face me with their gossip and accusations, and provide evidence that what they’ve apparently wanted to believe about me was even remotely the truth, backing up any accusations they’ve brought against me behind my back with whatever evidence they might muster together. Giving me the chance any defendant has, to try and clear my own name in open court. I’ve been slandered, and I know it now, but it’s always been sneakily done to me behind my back, never to my face. Face to face takes courage, guts, and the truth on your side. Cowardice takes none of that.