Tonight I happened to click on a link to an article from my hoo ha, famous radio personality cousin.  To my surprise, the way she announced that my aunt had returned home suddenly and was no longer there to care for her 2 year old brat was to bring up, in detail, not only my mother’s but my father’s suicide as a demonstration of what a crazy family she comes from.  The truly sad part of it all is, as my aunt lived with my cousins in San Francisco, they barely knew my sister and me, much less, my parents.  This is, by the way, the same cousin whose wedding I wasn’t invited to because nobody knew where to find me, despite the fact that I’ve lived in the same house for almost 30 years, and, until recently, I had the same phone number.  I also had the same email address which relatives who belatedly informed me of her marriage have been forwarding jokey little emails to for years.  This little ditty is going to seriously tax my forgiving efforts, but in the end, I will succeed.  It irritates me, right now, on two levels.  One, the suicides of my parents is not her story to tell, especially since she never knew them as people, as individuals who loved and fought and cared and did the best they could for their children.  People who had friends and jobs and made time to do things for people who were less fortunate than themselves, and who gave their daughters and their daughters friends many wonderful gifts over their abruptly ended lifetimes.  This person never knew this side of my parents, never attended family gatherings where we were present (although it appears that they didn’t avoid ALL of the Southern Cal relatives, only their mother’s sister and her family).  I guess I ran the first and second levels into one.  I see my cousin now as an insensitive, spoiled little girl who uses other people’s pain to increase her ratings, and oh my gawd!  Now she’s actually going to have to pay someone to raise her child for her while she dashes from radio show to interview to industry party to book promotion .  My book, when it comes out, may have even less circulation than hers, but I’ll be proud of it because I won’t use it to make fun of the lives of people I never knew.  I will be proud because I’m learning to get past the anger and other negative emotions I harbored for my parents to a place where I understand, accept and forgive them and me for mistakes made and insensitivities practiced while they were alive.  My aunt may not be the perfect mother, but she doesn’t deserve to be slapped down in her daughter’s very public forum because she decided not to continue to be a gopher and a drone; because she decided to go back to her own life and her own friends and her own home.  I just hope my cousin grows up and learns to love and forgive her own mother before it’s too late.  It’s a lot harder to do after they’re gone. 

Just as my parents both chose suicide as a way to escape a situation which no longer suited their needs, their wants and their comfort, my aunt chose to go home because life as her daughter’s nanny no longer suited her needs, her wants and her comfort.  I know that, over the years, I was less than kind to my mother, and I am learning to forgive myself because I reacted instead of trying to understand.  Will this girl ever learn to forgive herself and her mother for being the people they are and doing the best they can?  I hope so, for both their sakes, and the sake of her kid.

As for me, I’ll be putting a lot of effort into forgiving my cousin for being an insensitive boob who thought nothing about airing the gorey details of my parents’ deaths, complete with derogatory remarks, for all the world to see.    I have to see this whole affair as another of life’s lessons, and one I will triumph over in the end.  Writing about my parents’ deaths has not been easy so far, and I’ve gone through some emotional train wrecks with more to come.  It is only safe to assume that, at some point, I’ll have my nose rubbed in some of the messier parts, just to make sure I’ve really worked through all of the issues when I come to the end of the tale.    So thank you, “cousin”, for being the first to make light of something for which you really have no reason or right to comment.  What doesn’t kill me, and hasn’t killed me, has made me very, very strong indeed.

Love and light.