Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
I think if you look up “middle child syndrome” in a dictionary, Jan Brady would be pictured right there.
I’ve been a victim of “middle grandchild syndrome.”
See, on my dad’s side of the family, there’s my eldest cousin, Lindsay. I was always half-jealous of her growing up. After all, she’s five and a half years older than I am, and that made her pretty cool in my book. I don’t know if I ever admitted it to anyone, but I really admired her. (She is the reason flute was my first choice for an instrument when I decided to sign up for band in fourth grade; it didn’t actually work out though).
My younger sister, Kacki, is three and a half years younger than I am. Of the four of us, she’s the “baby” at 19.
Since there are four of us, with Lindsay being the oldest and Kacki being the youngest, it means I’m stuck in the middle with my other cousin. Unfortunately for me, my other cousin is Lindsay’s younger brother: James (who is about 3 years older than I am. By the time we all have our Birthdays of the year, we are all 3 years apart). So, while we are both in the middle, he’s the only boy.
Things were a little rough for me back in 2003-2004. I had a lot of issues with social anxieties that stemmed from a long history of bullying. It was also the time I quit band to focus on choir (I had a hard time with the clarinet and braces.)
See, there are a few things that make me think about my grandfather. A breakfast consisting of orange juice, Rice Krispies (with a TON of sugar), the best omelettes EVER (ham and cheese mostly), and maybe even a toasted English muffin with cream cheese and jelly with a Flinstone vitamin will always be my fondest memory of sleeping over at Grandma and Pop-Pop’s house.
The other thing that makes me think of my grandfather is music. I grew up going to the Fairfax City Independence Day parade in the morning, and the fireworks at night. I remember rolling down this hill at one concert every summer. At the house, there was the piano (where I self-taught myself a few tunes including a little of My Country ‘Tis of Thee), band practices, and the soprano sax.
Lindsay played the flute and piccolo for years and ultimately became a music major in college. Kacki played the flute for several years, but also played oboe (and was interested in adding more instruments to her list). I played violin for a year and clarinet for two before leaving band for choir.
That’s when all the trouble started. I don’t know if it’s because I’m in the middle, or if it’s because I abandoned instrumental music for vocal, but from that point on, I felt like I never measured up. It was little things (that probably started before I gave up clarinet). There were definitely times when I felt babied and left out because Lindsay and James were allowed to do things that I was “too young” to do. Of course, that made sense, but having a younger sister complicated things. When I was 11, we spent a week at the beach, but I wasn’t allowed to go out anywhere by myself. A few years later, when my sister was 11, we went again. She was allowed to go out by herself.
It always seemed like my sisters and cousins were favored. No matter what I tried, I was never good enough. I considered picking up the violin again, but it wasn’t enough.
The last time I saw my grandparents was right around this time in 2010. We came for a short visit after Christmas.
In May of 2012, my Pop-Pop had a stroke while driving. Sometime over the summer, he had another stroke (which I found out about using Facebook while logged in as a friend- nobody actually told me).
Pop-Pop passed away last week on Christmas Eve. I never went to visit him. From the time he had his first stroke (and possibly even before that), I always had this feeling that I might not see my grandfather again unless something happened (and even then, it still might not have changed anything). Now, I know that I’m 22 now. This wasn’t entirely out of my hands. Making arrangements to go down to Virginia to visit were entirely possible, but I never considered it. I just waited for the family trip.
I had a lot of unresolved animosity towards my grandparents, and my grandfather’s death has really hit me hard because of it. Honestly, I’ve had issues with all of my grandparents- not just the ones on my dad’s side of the family. My “foster” grandparents in Utah made me feel very unwelcome after they learned that I rejected Mormonism (but I’m not “really” family). My mom’s mom has been out of my life since I was in elementary school. I spoke to her once on my Birthday, but that’s about it.
And, chances are, I will never see any of them again.
But is isn’t just grandparents. I haven’t seen my Uncle Jason, Aunt Katie, Uncle Erik, Aunt Emily Uncle Scott, and their kids (Katrina, Kenya, Alison, Sarah Jane, Eli, Lily, and Zoe [there are more, but I forget names) since 2009. It’s been even longer since I’ve seen the rest of my foster relatives. I don’t remember the last time I saw Lindsay and James (or Aunt Carol and Uncle Rick). It’s been around 17-19 years since I’ve seen any biological cousins on my mom’s side of the family.
And friends are not excluded from this. I had a really bad argument with a friend a little over three years ago. During the time, I was struggling with reoccurring depression, and I relapsed and started cutting myself again. This, combined with a lot of personal issues I had with the church group we were involved in, led to an end. When she told me she didn’t want me to talk to her about my problems, I took it a step further, and I told her I would never speak to her again.
And I have kept that promise. I’ve seen her a few times since then, but we haven’t spoken. I’ve made no effort to patch things up. She’s not the only friend I lost through that. Sure, I’m not entirely sure all of them were really my friends (a lot probably weren’t), but I ended up cutting out a LOT of people from my life because of that night.
But as much as these people hurt me, I’m just terrified that it will never be resolved. What if I learn that this one ex-friend was killed in a car accident? I don’t know how I’d ever get over it.
This isn’t about life being short. My grandfather was 84, and his death wasn’t a sudden tragedy. It still makes me think, however. I think, I’ve always had this tiny part of me that felt like “one day we will resolve our differences.”
But what if I wake up one morning to a phone call or post on Facebook that lets me know that it is too late; that “one day” will never come?