Family

The Ghost of Extended Family

There were a lot of things I expected as a military wife: Deployments, TDYs, moving often and being far from family.

What I didn’t know has thrown my heart and emotions into a crying abyss — far too many times.

I didn’t realize how much it would hurt to see my family growing together, without me, and even more so, without my kids.

Someone should warn you how excruciating it will be to see you brother and sister’s babies grow up together. How they will form a bond as cousins that your kids will NEVER be a part of. How Facebook posts with pictures of them together will eat at your heart for days.

I tell myself it’s not fair, but at the same time I know that I choose to live 17 hours away.

I talk my heart into accepting the situation, only for Facebook to blast me another blow.

This time, it’s pictures of my best friends back home, growing stronger in their relationship with one another.

After years together, you do get closer. It’s the natural progression of relationships.

I understand and try to push the jealousy down.

Again, my head fights my heart. Tears sting my eyes.

We don’t get that. I don’t get it. My kids don’t get it.

Nothing is stable. We can’t form relationships that have a lifetime to develop.

We have chosen to make ourselves outsiders to not only our hometowns, but also our family and friends.

Visits with our loved ones help, but I know once we leave they go back to “normal” and I’m not part of it.

My heart aches for my kids to be their “normal.”

My children will never have a Facebook photo with their cousins saying “best friends for life.”

In fact, this is what saddens me the most, their cousins and family are the only people they will know for life. They are their continuum — the only thing they can count on to never change.

If you flip things around, my kids are strangers to these cousins. They are a biannual gathering, that’s slightly awkward. Their cousins have a city full of stable people and activities.

Social media has become a double-edged sword for the military. It helps keep friendships alive through countless moves, but it also highlights the voids of  family.

It exposes the ONE sacrifice that I was unaware of when I married into the military. I’ve disconnected my children from their extended family and it haunts me more than any ghost ever could.

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