It’s been five years since the wedding you wouldn’t attend. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming, but you can’t say you didn’t see it coming either. You made it clear, with the strict Jewish upbringing and rules about marrying in the faith. I made it clear, with the ditching of services and my burgeoning interest in India – its books, music and people. I realised that I needed to spend my life with someone who would appreciate, even encourage, my love of South Asian language, history and culture.
I guess there’s no point trying to decide if it was truly inevitable because it happened, and that’s that. I married a Sikh man and you cut me off for ever.
Mom, I remember you saying, back when I was at high school and this conversation was hypothetical, that I had to marry a Jew because you wanted to be able to connect to your grandkids. But you connected with me, didn’t you? And I stopped being Jewish so early that I had to fake my bat mitzvah.
If you think a Sikh upbringing is going to make your grandson out of reach to you, you have too little faith in humanity. You have more in common than you’d think: he’s a shy, bookish type – like me and you and your mom; he likes to race the other boys at break, an activity you told me you’d done yourself, the year I started running. He’s even taken to the same football team you taught me to cheer for, despite his father’s best efforts.
It was hard going through my first pregnancy without you or my aunt or my sister. In a way, it helped me to become close to my mother-in-law, who has been so much more gracious and accepting of this pale, new addition to her family than I ever could have hoped. She can’t tell me what the secret ingredient was in grandma’s pumpkin pie, but she taught me how to prepare baby milk and medicate a cough, and lull my fevered son to sleep. The incredible love I feel for my son brought me closer to my husband and family with every little act they performed to make my life easier or his life better.
So many times I wanted to call you up, if not for advice then just to say, “Look what he did today!” Or, “This reminded me of you,” or “I miss you.”
I didn’t, because I’m stubborn and cowardly, and bad at forgiveness. But now I have a little boy growing up too fast and another one, a little girl, on the way. And I’m starting to realise there is a point where it really is too late to come into someone’s life and still build a healthy, normal relationship. Sooner or later, my son will start asking where his other grandparents are and I will have to lie – lie to shield him from prejudice and judgment; lie to shield him from the pain that invariably creeps into my voice whenever I broach the subject; lie to shield him from the very notion that religion, this structure that has taught him to love and respect others, is enough to tear families apart.
It has been five years since the wedding you wouldn’t attend (a fact that had its own silver lining because then we could hold it in India with all of my husband’s family) and I’m doing OK. I’m sure I will continue to be OK – even good – in this new life of mine, without you. But I’d like you back in it, if you wanted to be. For your grandchildren’s sake, mostly, but also for my own.
It’s been five years and I hope that’s enough time for you to shake off your anger and disappointment, and start to miss me too.
It’s been five years. Expect a call.