I have spent many years of my life feeling like I was on the outside, not a part of the group of people that I called my family. I had been reminded many times that I was not one of them, and that I was not desired. I was the foundling that had been forced upon a woman because I was the child of one of her husband's relatives. I want to make clear that this attitude wasn't universal in the family, but it was strong enough that I always felt like I was different, apart from the others, an outsider.
My sister Margit and my brother John lived across the country, so I wasn't really a part of their lives either. It was Liz and me in this family-but-not-really-family. There's a great deal of love, as well as gratitude, in my heart for these people, some of whom took me directly into their hearts and lives and accepted me as one of their own. But there was always something missing. I suppose it was the loss of my own family that was somewhere in the back of my mind. I don't mean that I spent years dwelling on it, because I didn't. In fact, I remember a day in fifth grade music class when we were singing the words, "sometimes I feel like a motherless child," and I was immersed in the sad beauty of the song. I was wondering what a motherless child felt like when I suddenly remembered that I was a motherless child. I definitely wasn't dwelling on the whole situation if I had moments like that one.
I think it was more of a sadness born of not having people that I truly belonged to any more. It was easy to feel, especially after Gram was gone, that I didn't belong anywhere. I had very few memories of my parents, probably because of the traumatic nature of my mother's death and the fact that I was only seven when the family essentially ceased to exist. I didn't know anything about my family's history, or what the place they were from was like, or if I might have any relatives in Hungary that even knew about me. I couldn't even speak the Hungarian and German that they had always spoken any more.
Several years ago, through a set of circumstances that bordered on miraculous, I was able to go to Hungary to try to find my family (and my identity, or a part of it?), specifically my mother's side of the family. I have written before that I had a lot of fears about meeting them; after all, I was the daughter of the man who killed their sister or cousin or friend. How would they react when I showed up in their village without any warning? The way they reacted was beautiful, because they greeted me with love and acceptance. Suddenly I was transformed from a person without a family to a person visiting a village of some four hundred people, most of whom were relatives. I remember calling Trent from my Aunt Lizi's house before I went to bed and telling him that my family was full of warm, kind, and generous people. He replied, "Of course they are, they're your family, they are what you come from. I'm not surprised that they are wonderful people." Yes, of course that made me start crying, just as much as the outpouring of love from my relatives.
How gratifying it was to know that they were suffering along with us when our mother died. To find out that they had tried to find a way to bring us to live with them in Hungary. To know that we were thought about and wanted. I was thrilled to find out that Lizi had wanted for years to come to the USA to try and find us. After we got home, I was also delighted to hear that she was telling everyone that her long-lost relatives had found her. I now had a family.
And now about yearning. Now that I have a family, now that I know where they are, who they are, what they are like, I often wish that I could go back to see them again. When something is so wonderful and makes you feel so good, you want to be a part of it whenever it might be possible. Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that it most likely won't happen twice for me. Reality does play a part, and I know that we don't have the means for me to go back again, and for Trent to go for the first time. The yearning, no matter what the reality, still remains. I long to once again see my mother's beautiful village and the faces of my family, and to have a chance for Trent to be there with me. But the truth of the matter is that even if I never get back to Hungary again, I have something now that I will never lose. I have a family, although they are very far away, and they love me. Finally, I belong.