• StevenF

A Tale of Two Nieces

So one of Isaias' sisters has four daughters. One of those nieces, Karla, lives in California while her husband is serving in the Navy. Karla is the niece who was staying with us with her two sons, our great-nephews, Liam and Levi, this past month. We just recently took them back home, and I have to say, both Isaias and I got quite emotional saying goodbye.

We have a really great relationship with Karla. Actually we have good relationships with two of her sisters, Savannah and Elysabet, as well.

When I was much younger, I was interested in having kids. By the time I met Isaias, however, I no longer felt that desire and made it clear that I was no longer interested in having kids. And Isaias, who was not at the time opposed to having kids, was okay with my desire.

And so we never had children of our own, and I feel like neither of us has regretted that decision. As far as we are concerned, our cats are the closest thing we will have to our own kids.

And yet, when we are around Levi and Liam—and even Karla—I feel very paternal. I thought I might feel inconvenienced by having the kids here, but I never did. I truly loved having them in our home, and the house seems emptier without them here.

Karla drove our van home, and I was sitting in the back behind Liam and Levi, and Levi was just sort of staring ahead with this look of curiosity and wonder in his eyes. There was something so sweet and charming about it, it actually made me cry a little. I just felt an enormous amount of love for my niece and great-nephews.

It's always hard to say goodbye to them when we leave them or when they leave us. As I said, we just have a really close relationship with them. I am so grateful that Karla and Preston (her husband) have included us so prominently in their and their boys' lives.

Which brings me to Isaias' sister's fourth daughter, Raina. This relationship has been a source of hurt for me personally. I imagine Isaias feels the same, although I can't speak for him.

We used to have a good relationship with Raina—at least I thought we did. When I first met Raina, she was very kind and welcoming. We participated in the lives of her, her husband, Luis, and their daughter, Lily. I remember a big birthday thing Isaias did for Lily. If I am remembering correctly, it was Angry Birds themed (I could be thinking of the wrong party; Isaias and I have done so much decorating for so many events over the years).

The point is, he especially put a lot of work into giving Raina's daughter a really nice birthday at a time when Luis and Raina were probably not financially able to give her the kind of party they desired. And as is always the case with Isaias, he did so with no expectation other than he simply loved his niece and wanted to do something kind for her.

I don't know why this particular memory sticks out, but it does. Throughout our relationship with Raina and Luis, we were nothing but kind to them; at least that is my recollection.

I know Isaias has some criticisms about Luis, which he spoke to him openly about, so I wonder if that was part of what has led to where we are today.

What I do know is that once Raina and Luis moved out of the state, things changed. And it has become clear that from a religious point of view, Raina and Luis do not approve of Isaias' and my relationship.

I think what shocked me most is when we were blocked by them on Facebook. Not unfriended, mind you, but completely blocked. And I cannot recall anything Isaias or I ever did to merit such a reaction.

Since they moved away, I only recall seeing them and their children once—at Elysabet's wedding. They were polite, but our interaction was brief. And Raina called Isaias when Nena was dying.

That's it to the best of my recollection. I barely remember Lily and her sister Penelope, and I do not know her other two children, Ezekiel and Wonder, at all. And I think it's sad and unfortunate that Raina and Luis have chosen to cut us out of their lives.

It's mysterious to me. My understanding is that Raina and Luis are quite conservative and religious, and I imagine they think that Isaias and I would be a bad influence on their children. At least, that is the impression I get through my conversations with other family members.

The irony to me is that Isaias and I are pretty great people. At least I think we are. We could add value to each others' lives, I believe. And cutting people out of your life because of religious beliefs sure make those beliefs look small and alienating, in my opinion. If that's the kind of Christ you believe in, I guess we see things differently. It certainly doesn't feel very loving or welcoming to me.

I think it's tragic how those kids will never know us, and we will never know them. When I look at our relationship with Preston, Karla,, Liam and Levi, I think of how lucky and blessed we are to have each other. Luis and Raina may not realize it, but they have lost the potential for something beautiful and enduring as have Isaias and I.

The biggest irony to me is that based on things I have heard, Ezekiel is showing signs that are typical of a boy who might grow up to be gay. There is a selfish part of me that thinks, "Good. Karma."

But the more reasonable, compassionate part of me feels so much for that precious, unique, delightful little boy whom I don’t even know. And I fear for him. I fear for how his parents' attitudes toward homosexuality might negatively affect him and his psyche.

If he does turn out to be gay, I hope his parents will learn to treat him kindly and with love. I hope they will be kinder to him than they have been to us.

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