posted by Amy on Sep 7
My sister-in-law posted on the Legacy.com memorial site for her deceased husband, my brother Ross, on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of their wedding. I don’t mind her doing that, of course. It’s one of the reasons I paid for a funeral notice and then kicked in a little extra to keep the site live for a year. Since Ross didn’t interact with me very much over the last 30 years, it might also be a means for me and other family members to learn more about his adult life. But it’s not working out that way.
Almost everything she has posted has a boring, repetitive sameness to it. Here’s what I mean:
From April 30:
My Wonderful loving husband I miss you so much I miss our talks our holding hands and all the excitement you brought into my life you are my love my world my soul mate it’s you and only you until we are together again you will always be in my heart and soul. You are an amazing person you are so missed by me and your family. I know you are in God’s arms. Always and Forever
From May 1:
Oh! My beloved soul mate Ross,
I thank God for I had you in my life. I thank god for the soulful and divine moments I was able to share with you. The most romantic moments are when I was in your arms and I forget the whole world. The most sensual moments are when I was able to cuddle with you and feel you breathing next to me. The most beautiful moments are when I saw you smiling all because of me. The most special moments are when I was able to cheer you up and make you feel proud of me. The most unforgettable moments are when I was able to fight the whole world for you. The most fabulous moments are when I simply was able to be a part of your life.
On May 26:
Now that you are gone and I am having to carry on my memories alone will have to see me through. Memories of all the days we spent together how blessed I will always feel that I was so lucky to be your wife for 30 years. Sept 4,1982 what a wonderful day that was and so many days that were great after that.NO ONE will ever measure up to you why God took you at such a young age who knows I guess God needed you. It’s been quite an adjustment living without you I am hurting so bad I say good morning to you every morning and good-nite every night to you. I will always think about our days together I know we will meet again you are my sweetheart, my true love, my soul mate I will love you deeply for all eternity.
On September 4:
I feel you all around me at church at home at work I am always feeling your love. So many people tell me how lucky we were to have each other and that some people never have or never will have the love that we shared for each other. We were always joined at the hip always together hardly ever did we do our own thing separately, we enjoyed each other that much even after all the years we were together always joined at the hip even you use to say it. I never pictured every minute without you in it you went so fast. I’m so lucky to have loved so much and be loved so much by you. So many memories I wish we could do it all again now I’m on my own I just take it day by day no one said it would be easy I need to learn to be strong again I need to find where I belong there is such a pain in my heart that will never go away until we are reunited again.
In only one post did she describe a specific event, their first date. But that one post shows she knows how to do it. And it does not surprise me that she doesn’t talk about him as a person, or about their life together. She never did that while he was alive, nor did she make more than cursory attempts to interact with me. She sent a few school pictures of my niece and nephew. She sent Christmas cards most years, but there was never any note or family letter. She posted quite a few pictures on the Legacy.com site. She never sent me any of those.
I actually have more memories of her life with Ross than she’s been sharing on the legacy site. There was the time my second husband, my son Ben, and I went to Santa Rosa for her daughter’s wedding. They did all the catering themselves, and they were busy, busy preparing food for the reception the next day. But nevertheless Ross found time to cook a perfect whole chicken (he butterflied it so it would cook evenly) and corn on the grill. Ben had a great time getting to know his cousins. There was the time they came to visit us in Denver for Thanksgiving, which is also my youngest son’s birthday. Ross gave his youngest nephew a Walkman, which was a hot new thing that year. There was the time I picked my oldest son up from college in LA, and we decided to drive the 900+ miles to Santa Rosa to visit Ross and Eve.
In those times, and in our few interactions on Facebook, I learned that Ross had thought through a lot of public and private issues. He read a lot, and he was extremely intelligent and sensitive. In one of our last email conversations, I sent Ross the famous Brene Brown TEDx talk about vulnerability, and he thanked me and said he realized that vulnerability was an issue for him.
Ross’s personality doesn’t come through in what Eve writes. Neither does hers, except for how telling it is that it is all about her: her emotions, her gratification, her sadness. Of course a widow would be sad, but who, exactly, is it that she misses? What was he to her? What does she mean by “soul mate?” On her wedding anniversary, you’d think she’d have some memories: What the cake tasted like, what they danced to for their first dance, what music they had, and who was there. What was it like to blend their families? How did he help? What was his greatest virtue as a man? What drove her crazy? What joys and sorrows did they share? What, exactly, did they do together, besides hold hands and gaze into each other’s eyes?
My take on it is this: She isn’t doing this to memorialize him; she’s doing it to claim him for herself. In the Sept. 4 post she says she was there when Jesus came to take him away. (The first time I had any indication she likes Jesus is when she put a cheesy “Euro-Jesus petting a lamb” picture in the photo album on the legacy.com site.) Ross chose to conform to her demands of him, including the demand that he beat his kids. He chose her over them, and over his aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings. Ross and Eve were separated several times, but he always went back. He spent his entire adult life trying to win the love of a harsh, punitive, narcissistic woman who, not surprisingly, looked quite a bit like our mother. Over time his idealization of Mom increased, as did his demonization of Dad. Instead of integrating the good and bad sides of his parents, and himself, he did more and more splitting. I knew the truth, and I was not only willing but eager to talk about it. That’s why he avoided me.
In their 30+ years together Ross tried to differentiate from Eve. He tried to make a real career for himself, as a photographer or a chef. He tried to be a real person. But she always overpowered him. Finally, the only way he could get away from her was to die.
She is not a loving person. I’m sure her inability to love extends to herself as well, and I do feel sorry for her. But they were not soul mates. They had a very strong trauma bond, but that isn’t love. He was not her knight in shining armor, he was her serf, and she despised him for his weakness. He was not her beloved true companion. He was her source of narcissistic supply, and her supply got cut off.
On May 11, Eve sent me this message on Facebook:
I just wanted to say thank you for the thoughtfulness of the card and the book I received today. It might take a few months to get the things to you but I will. My life is really hard right now and I am trying to figure things out. Your brother and I had a great life together over thirty years everyone said we were joined at the hip even Ross said that. I can not tell you how empty I feel and how lost. I am also sorry for your loss in losing a brother everything happened so fast. God says don’t judge me because you do not know what path God has put me on. I just want you to know that I am sorry I didn’t call you or anyone when all this happened. I have been a mess I have lost my best friend, my soul mate I hope you can understand he was my whole world. Thank you again for your kindness.
There it is–the same stereotyped language. Notice there’s no mention of her mendacity–actively concealing the fact of his death from his son, daughter, and siblings, just “God says don’t judge me.” She didn’t publish a funeral notice. She had a memorial service three days after he died. A week after he died Eve’s son posted something on Ross’s Facebook page saying he’d call him Monday as always. She says she’s “sorry” she didn’t call, but she shows no awareness of how messed up it is to do that to other people–including his son and daughter–who loved him too. Even in death, she kept trying to claim him for herself. I asked her whether she somehow felt judged, or whether she thought maybe I didn’t have a grasp of the Christian doctrine of forgiveness. She didn’t reply.