I’ll be gathering with my first husband’s family in a few weeks to celebrate the life of my sister-in-law, who died the same week as my mother earlier this year. It has me thinking about marriage and families.
A few months after I met Rod, we drove across the continent to meet his family. The next year, they flew to us for our wedding. We were married for thirteen years before he died.
My brother-in-law (or is it outlaw now?) reminded me this week of when, right after the funeral, while they were all still at our house, his mother asked me if we could stay in touch. This strong, decisive woman who had treated me as a daughter for fourteen years and hosted our son for long summer visits with his cousins and extended family was worried that she would lose part of her family.
His family is one of the great legacies of that marriage, as important to me as ever. It’s my turn to cross the continent again and stand in loving remembrance with my husband’s brother, sister-in-law, nephews and grand-nephews, his niece, and his cousins. We have 37 years of shared history. They are part of my story and I am part of theirs. My son, my daughter-in-law, and their three children will be with us in spirit from another continent.
They are not a perfect family. In fact, they are quite a lot like the family I grew up in. I didn’t bond with them because I was escaping a negligent or abusive family or living near them and away from my family. I bonded with them, got to know them, encouraged them, forgave them because I married one of them.
I can’t imagine life without my bonus family, and being with them next month will be a great solace.