Blissful Ignorance and Delusional Thoughts

“I was just thinking that I wish my mother could have seen my kids. But you know what that is. That’s delusional thinking. Because my mother would make a horrible grandmother. Because she was a horrible mother.” – Meridith Grey (‘Greys Anatomy’ 2013 season premier)

After watching one of my favorite shows, I was beginning to make some conclusions about how I remembered my past and how I deal with it as an adult. Whenever people find out that my parents have been deceased since I was a child, I get shocking, sympathetic responses. Many try to imagine how they could live their own lives without biological parents. But my response is how can you miss what you’ve barely had? I was raised by my grandparents early on. By 4 years old, I was no longer living with my mother and father. As a couple, my parents were off and on. Therefore I only saw them separately and occasionally. When I was 16, I was getting a physical and the Dr. asked me about my medical history. When she seen me stumble on my parents cause of death, she decided to called my grandmother. That is when I saw the Dr. write out those dreadful four letters from across the table: A-I-D-S.  As you can imagine, my heart dropped. Although I had my suspicions, I wanted to believe that three deaths in a row was just an unfortunate coincidence. I was so angry and could not wait to leave that office. I needed answers and I needed them right away.

On the way home all the pieces to the puzzle were put together. It started to make sense. The weird hospital events that my mother would take us to (for families affected by AIDS) and the fact that my parents were not around. Perhaps it was because they were sick half of my life. In the 90′s AIDS was even more taboo. People didn’t talk about or want to be around someone infected. In fact, I never saw my parents when they were admitted in the hospital. I had to wait in the car and visitors were required to wear gowns and masks. I can also remember in 5th grade, having a class called “Family Living”. One of the lessons explained the symptoms of AIDS and HIV which mirrored my parents and little brother. I just never had the heart to ask. That would be crazy right? After all, my family already told me how they all passed. For years I was told my dad had pneumonia, mom had an enlarged heart, and brother had bad respiratory system. Although true…it was due to their weakened immune systems. My family’s story began to make less sense to me the more I ran with it. It also didn’t stop me from getting teased in school either.
 
For some reason, adults think kids are oblivious. Sure ignorance is bliss, but curiosity always grows with age. As the oldest, I was able to see my parents physical appearance change over the years. I knew something was wrong and that their deaths were not sudden. However that wasn’t my only clue. Ironically, my first job at was on the same block, working with the same hospital that my mother died in. I had to pass her last apartment (which was conveniently across the street) everyday and it would jog my memory of her fading away. The funny thing is that I only have clear memories of my mom in her healthiest state. That’s the blissful part. As it turns out, us kids were the only ones who didn’t know the truth. My great-grandmother was even nursing my mother at the hospital while we were in school and I had NO CLUE.
 
‘Til this day I am kind of upset about how it all played out. I should have never found out that way. When I got home from the Dr., I cursed people out (like for real) even though secrets were their way of protecting us. No one ever took responsibility for hiding it but I now realize some people cannot face the truth of loosing their child or horror of AIDS. I guess its safe to say that avoiding and keeping quiet is just how my family moved on. The consequence is that I ended up feeling like a fool and guilty for not wanting a better relationship with my parents.
 
For that reason I am all about honesty because perhaps we could have appreciated our relationships better if there were communication and value giving to the little time they all had left. I had no understanding of why they weren’t around so I was a little mad at them for that. But like the Meridith Grey’s character said. “That’s delusional thinking.” I don’t know what kind of relationship I would have had otherwise. If it weren’t AIDS it could have been something else. The truth is, living with my grandparents was normal to me, but now as a parent I don’t understand how a mother or father could be comfortable with such a distant relationship with their child. Was it depression from AIDS? Immaturity? Or was it drugs? Unfortunately the only ones who have the answer will never be able to reply. I miss my parents either way. However, I also know that these emotions are strongly fueled by the unknown and the “what ifs”. What if they were here? Would I have been able to talk to my mom about anything? Would my father have walked me down the aisle? I don’t know. I didn’t have a strong enough relationship with my parents to confidently believe that their existence would have made my life easier. THAT is how I deal. How many times do we hear about estranged families and dead beat parents? I could have very well be in that same boat. So when people wonder how I deal with my truth, I tell them I cry through it and take it day by day. Being financially blessed and loved by both sides of my family softened the emotional pains over the years. I am forever grateful for that.

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