All three children (2 toddlers and the oldest barely 7) went through cycles of crying and bouts of vomiting and diarrhea during the first 7-10 days while we travelled and after we got them to our house. And in the middle of my trauma and my grandchildren’s trauma was my teenager going through the trauma of gaining three more children in the house along with the loss of her older sister, along with having to share her mother after having her alone for 14 years. The children weren’t suffering from some stomach bug. It was trauma. Trauma from their mother dying. Trauma from being uprooted and taken 1800 miles away. Trauma from fear of the unknown. Trauma from anxiety. All I could do was to hug them tight while I cried too. Strip off our vomit-covered clothes and slip into a soapy tub again and again and let the water soothe our pain.
What would the husband do when this was happening? Complain about vomit on the carpet (while I’m making my way to the tub with the poor child) and carp aloud with, “When are they going to get well?” Or my personal favorite, “What is wrong with them!” There was no time to hate him for his cruelty. There was no time to analyze his behavior. It wasn’t his daughter who died unexpectedly, so why did he care? Even though she had been in his life from when she was 16 until her death at 31, he didn’t care. His family only recognizes biology. Everyone else be damned (a little family value of theirs that no one bothered to reveal until after his cheating was exposed) .
The children and I were doing our best to survive this trauma. We were fighting an overwhelming heaviness encircled in fog. We were grasping to breathe, to feel. And this bastard just hammered and hammered little abusive jabs. At the time, I didn’t have the room to absorb his blows. They were just blows that bounced off and when I would stop for a second to consider storing them for later injustice-analysis, I would remind myself that I must be grateful for all he had done. Although she was my daughter, I didn’t have the money to bury her or transport her children to our home. He had all the financial power. He liked it that way.
But those blows in the midst of my grief never disappeared. They only got pushed to the side. If he hadn’t been a cowardly ass and pulled this little cheating stunt, those jabs during my bereavement could have eventually melted away as something that happened or was said during a very traumatic time and not worthy of rehashing. Everyone deserves some leniency and forgiveness for their behavior when it’s a traumatic situation, especially when it is a trauma so great that very few would survive through it gracefully.
When after the fog is lifted and everyone is trying to get on with life, no forgiveness is deserved if the abuse unapologetically continues. Daily reminders of the funeral expenses. Daily reminders of how no one was stroking his ego enough for all that he had done. Daily purchases, and often, extravagant purchases for himself while everyone else was denied basic necessities, all because he deserved to treat himself for all that he had done and was still doing.