It is a funny thing how, as an adult, just when you think you're done with being parented, you acquire a second set of them. And it's complicated, learning to love them (especially because you're kind of done with being parented), but in some ways it's instinctive too, because they made the person that you fell in love with. And at first the relationship is kind of arbitrary, you know. You like them and they like you, and after a while, like even becomes love, because you love your husband, and that includes loving all the people that are enmeshed in his life. Then you have babies and the connection becomes a blood one, because their blood, their DNA, is so clearly present and accounted for, mingling and mixing with your blood and your DNA. And so many people become connected up, branching outwards, so that through your children, the shape of your family tree changes.
And then one day if you are lucky you realise that, even if there was no blood connection, you'd just want to hang out with these people, because they make you happy.
Here is a strange story about connectivity, and I hope I get the details right. It's a bit of headspinner. Before my father-in-law, Miles, married Catheryn he lived in a shared house in Melbourne with a man named Bert (who ended up marrying Janet, Catheryn's younger sister.) During this time my own mother was boarding with Bert's father in Tasmania. This connection was only uncovered years later, last year in fact, ten years after Martin and I had met.
I don't think I ever told Miles that I love him. I also never said a final goodbye - in fact I was on my way to the hospital when Martin called me. I pulled into a country road, next to a paddock where a woman was training her horse, to take his call, and after we both hung up, this is is where I cried. But it doesn't matter, about that last goodbye. Every time we said hello and goodbye, we kissed, we hugged, and the frailer his body became, the firmer those hugs were, from both of us. He knew he was loved, not just by me but so many people.
Fred is sure that we will see him again, in heaven. Her certainty gives Una comfort and I am glad that someone in the family can explain it to Una in such simple and hopeful terms. Her certainty gives me comfort too, I admit.