Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Former In-Laws

Well, a decade later, some of my former in-laws have gotten back in touch with me. I had kept in touch through my ex-husband, and his current wife, who is a dear friend of mine. But I was absolutely thrilled to get a "friend request" on Facebook from my former sister-in-law yesterday, (who lives in Liberia!), and I went through all her pictures and friends with glee.

It was one of the happiest days I have had in a long time.

I went back to some of my earlier journal entries from when I was in Lebanon. You can learn a lot about people when you stay in their house for a month. But I have to say they were so gracious, welcoming and loving.

Going to Lebanon changed my life in so many ways. It changed my perspectives. It changed my values. It eventually changed my religion.

I have often looked back and thought about my former in-laws, and today and yesterday have been flush with emotion.

Here is what I wrote in 1995.

I can find no fault with H's immediate family. They are as they are - which is very different from me - but they are good people. When I look at H's dad, I want to cry. I never look long because if he meets my glance and looks too long, my entire life will flash in tears of thunder. He is kind, like Pappa used to be in the period after a few drinks and before the too many. When the words "I hate you all" would surely come from resentment mixed with strong whiskey without ice or water to cool it. Come eat, he says gently, brokenly, and I remember Pappa with the ice cream sundaes after school or the Ding Dongs or the something extra sweet that finally raised his cholesterol too high for him to function. I didn't come here to grieve, but when I think of myself crying on that bed and him bringing me a basket of oranges or sitting with his glasses looking over scrawled Arabic business records, I cry. I cry.

I wonder when I look at H's mom why he married me. Her face is old but lovely. She brings life and happiness to any room, empty or full. The Arabic slides off her lips, as full as her body has become. She is the moon, nurturing. She is the sun, strong. Back home, I used to stare at her one crumpled picture and wonder. Hers was in a collage frame, but after glancing at all the others, I always came back to her, and looked. She seemed serious, solemn, Holy. I watch her pray here in robes of white, unable to kneel, with a chair to sit on instead. She believes in something. Christmas Eve she place white candles outside her home in hopes that some prophet would return. Unlike her, I cannot remember which one. I have no faith in anything, even myself.

While H's dad was eating, I went to kiss him. We were alone in the kitchen. I kissed him more that day than my own father in this entire year. I kissed his forehead, his cheeks, the top of his head. "You like me", he asked. Yes. "Too much?" Yes. Too much. I love you. "Me too," he said. "Don't go. Don't go back to America. Stay here," he said, biting my hand playfully as he kissed it. We'll come back, said. I kissed him more and started to walk away sad but he held me and sort of groaned sadly. He kissed my cheeks and his eyes started to water.

I wrote these poems for them, but never got the courage to give them to someone to translate for them. Maybe I will send them now.

I consider you more
than a father
for you planted the seed
of all my happiness.

I consider you
more than a mother
for you watered that seed
and made him grow.

I have really been grieving the relationship I have with my current in-laws and the fact that it will probably never be different. For so many years I have tried. I have tried to be kind. I have tried to be firm. I have tried to look the other way. I have tried just not talking to them all together.

It doesn't matter what I do because they are the same people they have always been.
I am also grieving the loss of my former in-laws. They were so kind. My ex-husband's wife, bless her heart, told me last week she would share them with me.

I told her I'd take her up on that!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I just love that she will share them with you. She is such as sweetheart. This post made me sad, but I have learned (as have you) that we just can't change people. We can't change who they are. It's sad, but it is what it is. I'm going through this a little with my sister and brother. They are the way they are and I can only change my side of the street.

    Thoughts are with you, sweetie.