When you build a house out of cards, you know that with each card you add the more difficult it becomes to keep it from crashing down. One slip of the hand, your house is destroyed in literally seconds! Not days, not hours or even minutes--SECONDS! Building a blended family is a lot like building a house of cards. You slowly build your family up one card at a time and just when you think; we finally made it! A card gets pulled out from your house. Your family can survive a card being removed from the top levels. It sways some, but ultimately your house remains standing. Take out one of your base cards, say the Mom or Dad card and it's toast! Gone in the blink of an eye.
As you know, I had surgery this summer to remove an ovarian polyp which turned out to be two. Luckily, my surgery took a mere 50 minutes without complications and the pathology on both polyps came back benign. NO CANCER! Thank God! However, it forced me to face head on the fragility of our family.
In the beginning, when you create a blended family you're so busy just trying to survive, the last thing on your mind is "What if one of us dies?" And really until your family has survived some of the many hurdles together that you inevitably face as a blended family and create some great memories, your just my dad's wife, my mom's husband.
Eleven years later, we are a family in every sense of the word, we've shared several thousand family dinners, 11 Christmases, birthdays and dozens of family vacations. The kids are siblings, we are the parents and function just like any other traditional family. So it's hard for me how to wrap my brain around the fact that if something had happened to me in the operating room or the pathology tests had come back positive for cancer our family would have been looking at an uncertain future.
Elle would have been faced with the loss of her mother along with the threat of losing our family and her home that she's lived in since she was 5. Since she had not seen or spoken to her father (Dick) in over 16 months because of emotional/physical abuse, her future felt very uncertain. I talked through what would happen with her if something where to happen to me, while at the same time reassuring her nothing was going to happen. Ultimately it was Raylan's reassurance that he would do whatever it took to keep her safe, in her home and with her family that finally added some significant relief to her racing mind.
As for me, it still weighs heavily on my mind. Something could happen to either one of us at any time. No different from any other day over the past eleven years. It's just now that I've opened my eyes I can't close them and pretend that it's not a real possibility. So how do we chose to deal with that new reality? We remind the kids that this is their family and home regardless of what life brings us and that they are in control of how their lives are shaped. If something does happens, express what you want and need to your other parents and life will work out! Do we know it for sure? No, but we have to have faith that it will or we'd go stir crazy.