Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Wedding of The Century

One of my cousins is getting married. On Friday, my family received an invitation to the ceremony, which is on September 18th. However, that invitation was the first we heard about it.

You see, my cousin is getting married to a woman that the family isn’t exactly crazy about. Why are we not exactly crazy about her? Well, she has several kids. She’s over 10 years older than my cousin, who is a little over three years older than me. From the outside, it looks like a classic case of a scheming older woman who has snared herself a younger, “good” man.

What makes things worse is that before my cousin moved to Jackson, Mississippi to go to school, we were very close. When my sister and I were growing up, he was our favorite cousin, hands down. He was fairly grounded (as his mother was sick for as long as I can remember), funny, and an all-around nice person. Only a couple of years after he graduated high school, his mother passed away.

But it seems like after he met his now-fiancee, things really changed. The last time I really spent time with him without his then-“friend” around was probably in 2002 when I visited him during Spring Break. Since then, we’ve barely seen or heard from him. When he last visited, he brought along his then-girlfriend and her kids without telling us. Thus, we barely got to spend time with him as we had to also entertain her and the kids (for the record, the kids are nice). He hasn’t exactly treated my other cousin (who is going to school down there) the best as well. When they were sharing an apartment, he didn’t pay the rent for weeks, despite her giving him her share of it. Over the course of just a few years, we went from close cousins to almost total strangers.

I think our family should’ve known something major was going to happen. My sister, who just left for college, decided to come home this weekend. The mail, which had been coming pretty late for the past few days, came early. When Dad, Samone, and I got home from picking her up on Friday, I went around to the front to check the mail. I was looking for a package (which I did receive) when I saw a letter addressed to Mom and Dad. It had no return address on it, and the postmark read “Jackson, MS”. After my dad made a bad observation about the stamp (saying that it looked like Alan was Paul Robeson), I took the letter from him and decided to open it. After all, I normally open junk mail. When I opened it, I pulled out a single sheet of paper, covered with a thin sheet of parchment or wax paper. When I read it, I couldn’t really believe it. I had to look at it longer. After a while, my sister looked at it and yelled. My dad did too and we expressed our shock at receiving an invitation to my cousin’s wedding.

When we went to pick up my mom (who went to her old job for the penultimate time), we brought along the invitation for her to look at. We didn’t tell her, but instead let her find out. Her reaction was priceless: “Aww, shit!” We then tried to call our family friend, Rhonda. She wasn’t around. Later on, we received a call from my grandmother who also got her invitation that day. My grandmother seemed to approve, but we really think she was kind of sad that my cousin couldn’t even call to tell her. Also, we called my other cousin down there to see if she knew. She didn’t.

By Saturday, much of the important family knew about the wedding. We called and talked with my uncle from Seattle, the person who disliked my cousin’s girlfriend the most. My auntee came by our house to talk and rant a bit about it with us. She claims that she will send my cousin a sympathy card instead of a card of congratulations. I saw the card, which said “With Deepest Sympathy”. Also, we all joked about the impending marriage. My other cousin down there also called us, letting us know that she visited them and that it was official. She was even asked to be in the wedding, and she just might do it.

Honestly, it looks like none of my immediate family will be able to attend this wedding. The invitation came less than a month before the actual ceremony. Plus, we don’t have the money to drive or fly down there, especially with my mom now out of work. This whole thing just solidifies the downward spiral of a relationship we have with my cousin.

Given the relationship we used to have, I really want to be happy for him. I hope that he’s found the person he really wants to be with for the rest of his life, and not a woman he’s marrying out of some type of perceived obligation. However, he’s the one who basically decided to cut us out of his life. We try to call him and stay in contact and we TOLD him every time we saw him to call us, even if it was collect. We shouldn’t have to hear about him through someone else (my other cousin) and we certainly shouldn’t have found out he was getting married through the mail.

I love my cousin...but only in the way I love a wayward member of the family. It’s similar to the way parents say they love their children despite the crimes they have been found guilty of. I am angry, hurt, and ultimately indifferent about him. I’ll pray for him, as I pray for all my family, every single night. However, I don’t think we can ever expect the closeness we have to return. If I hear from him again, I’m not sure I can be as happy and polite as he’d like me to be. In fact, I may just tell him how I really feel, something he might not be ready to hear. I won’t say that the relationship between my cousin and I is beyond repair, but it’s close. And an announcement like this certainly doesn’t help.

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