R's ex-wife said this to me once, and I laughed along with her, because my ex-MIL is the epitome of all the mother-in-law jokes and stereotypes you have ever heard. I may even have expressed a tiny bit of envy to my predecessor, a little I know, right? And when, as was perhaps inevitable in hindsight, I became R's second ex-wife, I had the fleeting enjoyment of mentally brushing his mother free from my coattails. I wouldn't miss her nosiness, or the way she invaded my house every few weeks to stay for an endless weekend. The way she enjoyed picking up my wedding and engagement rings from the safe spot I put them in while I was washing the pots after a big dinner and then watching me frantically search for them. Or finding a pair of her panties draped over the brass floor register in my living room and realizing they were drying after an incontinent moment...on my carpet. Yeah. I wasn't going to miss that.
But I soon realized that while I wouldn't miss my mother-in-law, I was unprepared for the ruthless and determined silence from people I did like, and who I thought liked me, in R's family. His elder sister answered the phone once when she was visiting them, and I eagerly asked her how she was doing, how her kids were. She disconnected me without saying anything. I called back, and one of my daughters answered. I asked what had happened, and she told me, Auntie P didn't want to talk to you. She said you're not family anymore.
My stepdaughter and her fiance. My two sisters-in-law and their husbands, a niece and two nephews. R's family from Quebec, aunts and uncles and cousins. I don't miss all of them, but I do miss most of them. Especially my older niece and nephew. I'm still friends with both of them on FB, but they have never responded to the few tentative messages or comments I've made since the day I left my marital home, and half of the family that had apparently only been attached to my marriage.
This isn't something that you think about having to cope with when you are in the process of ending your marriage, and then when you are trying to rebuild your life. It honestly never crossed my mind that I would lose them, especially when I consider that R's father's first and second wives would often be at family gatherings, would even sit together and chat. Or that R's first wife spent New Year's Eve 1999 with my kids and her daughter and I. I always liked thinking that as a blended family at several levels, we were adult enough to deal with finished marriages, and recognized that family relationships could go on.
Last Christmas, my nephew, who is a really lovely young man, let Mel sneak a shot of rum in a couple of her Cokes. I was texting with her Christmas Day, as R was going to drop them off to us after they had their dinner to join us for a family party at Steph's parents. I didn't realize she'd handed the phone over to her cousin, and when she sent me the text, M is my favourite cousin, I texted back, "I don't blame you for feeling that way, I still miss him a lot." I knew when I received one back, which was awkward and didn't sound like Mel, that M had sent the first one and had been surprised by my response. Something about how it was sucky when you had to take sides because of family, and hoped I knew that M missed me and thought about me too.
Had to take sides? Because why, exactly?
I thought about asking him this question, but once I worked through the hurt feelings, I realized that I would gain nothing by pursuing it. I watched my niece post pictures of her engagement party, wedding shower and wedding, admired at a distance, and remembered the stars in her eyes on MY wedding day when I crouched down to put on the earrings that were my gift to her when she was one of my bridesmaids. I sent a card but didn't expect to hear from her. I didn't.
Late this afternoon, M posted on FB a beautifully written status, describing the puppy he got for his tenth birthday, a beautiful chocolate lab named Jezebel, and how she died today after a long and well-loved life, and he's heartbroken. I posted, along with many other (former) family members, love and sympathy to both him and my niece. I sent him a very brief private message, telling him my favourite memory of Jezebelly, as she was known, and a funny photo I'd taken of her at the cottage several years ago. Based on past experience, I'm sure I won't get a response.
Hurting a little for my nephew today. Even if I'm not family anymore.