When Alan and I got married, we were constrained by US Immigration requirements to wed within 90 days of my arrival here on American soil on a fiancee visa. We would’ve easily opted to do a civil wedding but we decided instead to have an ecumenical ceremony on the grounds of the banquet venue where we had our reception for 30 friends and family. We didn’t want a big wedding because we really just wanted to start spending the rest of our lives together.
Our wedding entourage was devoid of frills as well. My sister, who would have been my Maid of Honor failed to make it here to the US with my Mom. No one from my family was present, but we had chosen my sister-in-laws parents-in-law to be our Ninong and Ninang. They were ever solicitous and very concerned for me and were godparents to a T. Through the last 5 years, we have become like children to them and they, parents to us, and we became one big happy family.
Recent events which tore the family apart made my Ninong and Ninang casualties of a fight they were never a participant of. I wrote them a letter last week thanking them for all that they have done, particularly for making me feel like I was a part of THEIR family. They would invite us to what used to be immediate family member gatherings where we got to know their own extended family. In essence we were only related by affinity, but we felt a strong bond which fostered the highest respect for these two people who were very generous with their patience, wisdom and love.
As the angry words were hurled in e-mails they were eventually copied on, it became clear to Alan and me that much as we would want to maintain the same ties we had before things went awry elsewhere, they had their own family ties to respect.
Thank you is not enough to express the gratitude we want to convey to them. I asked forgiveness for anything that may have been said or done which may have offended their sensibilities or feelings. I told them that much as we would want to continue to see them like before, we know that their son’s feelings would take primacy. Ang dugo ay kadugo. Sometimes, you don’t want to take sides but you are forced to because you don’t want to hurt those you love. We told them we understand.
It was enough for us that those words were said. It is never easy to say goodbye although I stated there to Alan and me, this was not goodbye. I couldn’t help but shed a tear when I wrote that e-mail because I have come to love my Ninong and Ninang like real parents.
You can never truly say you are not taking sides because someone will get offended if you don’t. We would like to think we are open to reconciliation, but with the pain still so vivid and fresh, only time will tell when that can happen. And as I had stated, peace only works if both sides come to an agreement to go for it.
They were always there like our own parents — like a Lolo and Lola to Angel. Married over 30 years now, theirs was a marraige we emulated and hope to surpass if not at least equal. Pinoy na pinoy sila, a trait which some who have grown up and considered themselves Americanized would frown upon, but that is a trait of theirs that has endeared them to me personally. They are always here in our thoughts and prayers, and knowing that they know we feel that way is enough for now, at least until we can be a family again — whenever that may be.