- 6 days ago
- Wedding: March 2020
I just need to write this out to help myself process my feelings. It’s going to be very long, but I just think it’ll be good for me, somehow. I hope so, anyway.
My husband got news this week that his grandfather has cancer, and not long left. This man was, by my husband’s account, an incredibly active and productive man in his hey-day, but has declined rapidly over the past two years. His grandmother apparently has been showing advanced signs of dementia, as well.
I’ve been with my husband since March 26, 2018, and we got married two years to the day in March of 2020. So, not long. My family lives in North Carolina and he met them about eight months into our relationship, and I didn’t meet his family (who lives in the D.C. area) until after we got engaged in January of 2020.
He visited his mom and grandparents in August of 2018, at my suggestion because his mother’s boyfriend told him she was really depressed and his grandfather had just had a stroke. He’s seen his mom three times since then, but has not gone back to Pennsylvania (we are military and currently live in Mississippi) to see his grandparents in about two years, so as you can imagine, he’s struggling with the knowledge that he might have missed out on seeing them at their best. He made a heartbreaking statement to me today that he wishes he’d met me sooner so he could have introduced me to them and I could have gotten to know them before they started to decline.
As soon as he got the news and decided to fly out for a couple days this week, I told him I would come with him to support him in any way that I could, but I also wouldn’t intrude if he would prefer to go alone. He looked very surprised but relieved, and told me that my offer of support meant the world to him. He said he’d never felt so supported by someone who knew him and what he needs so well.
Today, however, I asked if he still wanted me to go and he told me he’d rather go alone. I was a little surprised, as he’d been very grateful when I first mentioned I’d accompany him.
At first, he said it was because his mother told him yesterday that his grandmother often asks how Laura is doing. Laura is my husband’s ex-wife, who came out as a lesbian right before they filed for divorce. Apparently, his grandmother keeps forgetting they’re divorced, and that my husband has remarried. I wouldn’t take this as any offense, but he said it’d be embarrassing if she called me Laura. (I gently teased that it’d be hard for anyone to make that mistake, as I’m a 5’7″ thin-ish blonde and she was a 5’2″ pudgy brunette, but I of course understand how dementia works.)
(As a bit of back story: My mother worked in nursing homes for many, many years after she got out of hairstyling, and I also worked a summer as a weekend receptionist in one of those facilities she worked for, and observed all manner of dementia and Alzheimer’s first-hand.)
My mother-in-law also told him his grandfather sometimes walks out of his bedroom with no pants or underwear on.
Apparently, they also have a cat but either do not remember to, or are unable to, clean the litter box, so the cat often urinates or defecates in the house.
To say the least, my mother-in-law tries to visit them but it has all been very upsetting for her.
Ultimately, my husband said these things would probably make me uncomfortable, as well as him. I gently told him that he can’t necessarily speak for what makes me uncomfortable, but if it made HIM or his family uncomfortable to have me there, that’s a completely different story and I would respect that 100%. I told him I wouldn’t be bothered in the least by any of this, and the state of their home wouldn’t faze me either. (I used to be a police officer, and saw hoarder houses that were MUCH worse.)
To top all of this off, his brother has been struggling with drug addiction and a criminal past for most of his life, but has recently gotten into a therapy program after a brief stint in jail. He has been doing very well, and my husband and he have begun the slow process of rebuilding their relationship. His brother will be there when the family gets together, and my husband is sad it’s under these circumstances but relieved that he and his brother and mother will finally be gathered together again for the first time in a long, long time. So, understandably, there’s a lot for my husband to process.
So, I’m writing to all of you bees for a really stupid reason: I feel left out. And I KNOW I shouldn’t. I feel like I can’t help him or properly be there for him. My husband is a man who really needs physical affection, physical touch is absolutely his love language, and I won’t be able to give him that when he needs it most right now. He will have his family, of course, but not 24/7. During the night, if he gets sad, he’ll be alone. He could call me, of course, but I don’t feel that’s quite the same.
I even offered to go and stay at my mother-in-law’s house and let them go on to Pennsylvania and just be there when he returned, but he said it’d be a lot of downtime for me and probably not worth the trouble. So, I didn’t push the issue. I just wanted him to know that’d be okay, if that’s what he needed.
I am trying not to internalize this at all. Please understand that I realize how selfish that sounds, and even as I write it, I don’t like feeling this way. I know this isn’t MY family, literally speaking, and it has nothing to do with me at all. I don’t want to make this about me. It isn’t. It isn’t AT ALL.
I just feel like I’m never going to get a chance to meet the people who shaped his life in such an important way. His grandfather taught him how to fix things and do car maintenance and play football and fish. He was my husband’s only father figure.
I get the feeling my husband is trying to shield me from the reality, but honestly, isn’t that part of marriage? Aren’t we supposed to look past anything like that? I know I’d have no trouble doing so. No one, and no one’s family, is perfect. My own family, although I love them to death, isn’t perfect. We all have our hard stuff, right?
Please help me sort this out. I can’t talk to my husband about this, because I don’t want him to think he’s hurt my feelings. He doesn’t need this on his plate, God knows he has more than enough right now. I just want to support his decision, and I’m coming here to vent. If you’ve made it this far, thank you. If you want to tell me I’m being an idiot or a selfish b*tch, go right ahead. I can handle that. I just needed somewhere to get this all out.
Also, I wanted to say we discussed the concerns of COVID with flying and with his being around family. His family is also very science-conscious and careful and anxious about the pandemic, and they all will be wearing masks and social distancing and not being stupid. He will of course wear a mask for his flights, as well. He said if he has any concerns whatsoever, he’d gladly self-isolate in a guest bedroom when he returns. So, that’s not something we’re just pretending isn’t an issue, but he’s going to do the very best he can given the circumstances. It’s hardly unfair for him to miss out on this, and I agree with his decision.