In November 2014, right around my birthday, one of my cousins reached out to me on Twitter. We hadn’t spoken in probably close to 30 years. After sending direct messages back and forth, he told me that my mother had died. She’d passed on June 27th of that year. I was still living in the United States at that time, and didn’t leave for Finland until mid-August. No one contacted me to let me know, or to invite me to the funeral. My cousin felt guilty about that, and felt that I should know that she was gone. Once he’d gotten past the small talk and managed to tell me, his guilt assuaged, he ghosted me.
A few days after that, I received an email from a sister I never knew existed. She knew about me, though. After a few random pleasantries, she got around to telling me that our father had died. I never had a relationship with him, because my parents divorced when I was two. I met him exactly once, when I was 4 or 5 years old. He brought me a can of apple juice and a string of lollipops. He died in August*, after I was already in the process of moving to Finland. Again, no one told me until after the fact. This sister was the executor of his estate, and needed me to sign some paperwork. We stayed in touch until she got what she needed, and then she ghosted me.
Both of my parents, who had not seen each other in decades and lived several states away from one another, died weeks apart. I was notified days apart, long after they’d been put to rest. The news was dropped on the week of my birthday. The relatives that told me then vanished, after they got what they needed. Both parents knew that they were dying from lingering illnesses. Both, I’m told, considered reaching out to me to maybe get some closure. Neither of them did.
My cousin and my sister both said that I was easy to find. Cousin put my name into Twitter and I popped right up. Sister did a Google search, found this website, and used the contact form. They had my legal name, which is not my birth name. Everyone in the family knew I’d changed it, and why, before they all stopped talking to me in 1996. I had to get away from certain toxic people, but no one chose to keep in touch with me. I wasn’t surprised that they ghosted me in 2014, because they’d already done it 18 years earlier.
I will never forget a comment my mother-in-law made once. She’d deny that she said it, because that’s how she is, but it came out of her mouth. She made a declaration that family isn’t important to me, because I don’t have one. As if that was my choice. As if anything that happened to me is what I would choose. Implying that my lack of relationship with toxic family members, and the people that sided with them over me, is the way I wanted things to work out.
Hopefully this gives you a little bit of insight as to why I am the way I am. Feel free to ask me questions.
(*I have the obituaries bookmarked, and looked at them to be sure I had the dates correct. Because I’m in the European Union, and due to the GDPR, I can’t access my father’s obituary. It’s region-blocked.)