My family is full of secrets. Everyone seems bound by loyalty to keep them to an extent that their lies to cover up what’s happened becomes the new narrative that they will take to the grave saying it’s true.
How my cousin and ex brother in law got together is one of them.
Being outside of the family myself for years, it has truly been bothering me about how things went down, but i can’t tell my sister for fear of the ugly wounds it would re-open.
A little backstory, see my sister met the guy of her dreams when she thought she had hit rock bottom.
For anonymity’s sake, we’ll call him Mark. Mark was well off, and a parent himself as was she at the time. They both fell head over heels and before you knew it they were getting married. Mark lost his well-to-do job, and they all ended up moving back to my parents house a state away from where they were living and where Mark’s ex wife and kids lived.
They visited on their schedule and eventually Mark got a good job and they got their own house, just in time to welcome their own addition to the family.
This darling baby ended up having a very, very rare birth defect that is a genetic condition that only a handful of known cases existed, and they were a 1 in 4 chance genetically to have kids with this condition. The child lived for almost a year before passing away in my sister’s arms and being passed to me immediately to hold until the coroners arrival.
This is ultimately where my mixed in observations began. I somehow became a shadow in everyone’s background while a lot went down. Being detached, but still in the family as a young adult i had a glimpse into each persons involvements in the events of the coming months like no one else, and i knew it. Any time i tried to speak up about little inconsistencies i was quickly dismissed and literally told what I was to repeat as the truth.
You see, at this time, Mark and my sister were really struggling, and rightfully so.
There were other internal issues in my family workings that involved me and a brother of mine and Mark chose to try to bring these up one evening when he picked me up from my apartment on his way to get his kids from the other state for his visitation. He wanted to take this time to tell me he studied sociology in college and he understood there was more going on under the surface with my conflict.
Eventually the subject flipped to his relationship with my sister and how he felt that if he had known that my sister would be ‘this crazy’ when she was pregnant with their child due to hormone imbalance, he would have never had the child with her in the first place. This was before the baby passed.
My sister fell into a deep depression in the coming months after her child’s passing, and mostly due to the fact that literally no one in the family talked about it or visited her, or anything during this time. Her deep depression led to a suicide attempt. I happened to be having a terrible time with my then boyfriend and called her right after she had began her attempt and could tell something was very wrong and called my family members to check on her. They considered this her ultimate sin, and left her at the hospital and packed all her things in her car and told her not to come home.
During this time, my cousin whom I’ve been close to my whole life, came into my place of work one day to do get some assistance with paperwork. Divorce paperwork. She quickly expressed a need for privacy and I obliged. Before I could say anything my mother had to announce it and stated that it was because my cousins husband had looked at porn. Literally weeks later my sister was in the hospital.
Thanksgiving rolled around and my family made some weird choices. They were determined to show my sister that trying to commit suicide was unacceptable and decided to tell her she was not welcomed to celebrate the holiday with us, but her now ex husband Mark was.
It was then that Mark and my cousin began ‘getting to know’ each other better. By Christmas, my parents had ‘adopted’ Mark as a surrogate son and were in attempts to get custody of my sisters kids. My cousin decided to spend Christmas with us for the first time that year.
After New Years I was in the middle of a break up and needed more money and began helping my cousin with her at home day care to make some extra cash. This gave me another avenue of insight to what was going on. During this time my cousins ex husband was trying his best to win her back and make their family whole again. She would have me watch the kids while she talked or went out on dates with him. By Valentines Day she was getting flowers and blushing any time one of her clients mentioned her new beau, Mark. I even helped clean the flowers she got while she was on her Valentines lunch date and it never clicked until my sisters now ex, Mark called me to ask for my ‘permission’ to openly date and announce later that week that he planned to marry my cousin.
Once they announced their engagement, they were to be wed by that May…not even a full year since the death of his child. They had to send out this letter to the family members to give their ‘story’ and I wanted to vomit. They claimed to have met after New Years, and bonded so quickly that they wanted to live a life blessed by God which meant they couldn’t live together without being married.
My sister had to fight for years to get her kids back from him. My cousin began claiming my sisters kids as her own and that she had a dream that she was always meant to be the heavenly mother to my sisters child who passed away. They tore my sisters reputation to pieces and everyone used her suicide attempt as proof.
My sister was a quiet storm through all of this. When her and I finally sat down and had a brief conversation to try to sort this mess, I couldn’t get very far because of what she revealed to me later. She asked why my cousin and her ex split and when I told her she laughed and said that Mark was no better with his viewing habits. She also expressed worry about what they would do if Mark and my cousin had a baby. It was genetic, after all. She told me then how Mark, this God-fearing holier than thou guy had convinced my sister to have an abortion shortly after the death of their child because he “couldn’t go through the death of another child.” It was after this occurred that he kicked her out and subsequently divorced her the next month.
No one else knows about the abortion. Mark still takes his place proudly at my family’s dinner table every holiday with my cousin who is considered my family’s ‘daughter-in-law niece” they say with a chuckle and take family photos together. My sister has been disowned for years, but somehow my cousin felt the need to reach across the schism for the first time in years.
You see, her first child with Mark had been perfect, and they thought they were okay to have another child. However, the law of averages caught up to them and the child had the same condition as my sisters did. Eventually they lost that baby, too, and she wanted to let her know that she was sorry for how she had handled it. My sister, with all the grace of a woman forged in fire, told her she apologized that she was feeling a pain she would not wish on another mother.
I’ve never told my sister about what Mark told me on the ride to the other state. I’ve wondered some times if it would really do any good. I never told her that I knew that Mark was dating my cousin far sooner than they stated, but again I wonder what good it would really do.
The biggest thing now on my mind as I write this, I wonder what my cousin thinks now. Does she know Mark had my sister to have an abortion? Has he made her have one now, too? Does she really understand the impact she’s had on my sister’s kids for all those times she tried to convince them she was their new mom?
All this stuff comes to mind any time something somehow gets brought up and I’ll say “my cousin who married my ex brother-in-law” or something to that effect and most people laugh and ask me how that happened. How I wish it could be an arbitrary answer with a concise answer, but I’ll try.