The months went on, and this strange, new life became normal. I went from having two siblings to five, but I was okay with it. We grew closer as a family, and got the hang of us being siblings pretty quickly. Of course, with a 5 year old, two, 3 year olds, and a newborn in the house, Ashley and I felt like we were their second moms, more than their siblings at times.
School went back to normal for me, even though a new event had been added to my calendar. This event included meeting with the school counselor A LOT. She definitely helped with my healing process.
I do remember days, though, where I would be sitting in class, and out of nowhere, a wave of emotion would rush through my body. I would be filled with sadness, and want nothing more than to abruptly leave the classroom to go sit in our school’s chapel and be alone with my thoughts. Of course, I never did this, because I didn’t want to interrupt the class, or make the teacher feel like she had to give me special treatment. These moments were awful, trying to choke back tears, while not causing a scene.
Of course, the only thing that I could do was to continue to move forward with my life. I was not about to let this awful thing that had completely engulfed my life, break me. I was stronger than my situation, and I was determined to prove it.
As time went on, those waves of sadness grew fewer and farther apart. It definitely helped to have an incredible support system at home, though.
With every merged family, there will always be tweaks that need to be made, and kinks to work out. Our family was no different.
The first “kink” that needed to be worked through involved Jack and Kyle (the three year olds). With Jack and Kyle being only two months a part, they unfortunately got grouped together for practically everything. They never got much alone time with my aunt and uncle, because my aunt and uncle was doing their best to juggle all 6 of us at once. Kyle would get jealous of Jack over certain things, and Jack would get jealous of Kyle for certain things. We eventually learned how to manage this, by allowing the boys to develop their own personalities. We found out what made them unique, and capitalized on those traits.
Jack loves all things outdoors, including hunting and fishing.Jack is a great people-person, and could talk to you about anything for hours. Kyle loves sports and is very driven with his goals. He also has a huge heart for helping animals and loves donating his time with me to help dogs in need at Unleashed Pet Rescue.
Mary and Joe did such an incredible job making Ashley, Jack, and I feel right at home, that sometimes their own children got lost in the shuffle. It was a hard balance to figure out. They wanted to make us three feel loved, as we had just lost our parents, and were going through a very traumatic time in our lives, yet their own children needed their parents to grow and learn from as well. This was quite a challenge to balance for any parents. They had been given quite the task, but I can assure you they have made each of us feel special and wanted and loved. They accomplished what can sometimes feel like the un-accomplishable.
Another “kink” that took some time to explain to others was how I considered my cousins/siblings all to be my siblings, even though three of them were my cousins.
I specifically remember one instance, I was in speech class giving an impromptu speech in front of my entire class. I was rattling off something, and remember that I said “my aunt gave birth to my sister”. In my head, it made sense. Yes, Lauren was my cousin, but she had become my sister.
Once I was finished with my speech, the questions started pouring in.
“What do you mean your aunt had your sister?” was the question that stood out the most. I awkwardly just stood there, uncomfortably, not quite sure how to answer.The people in the class that understood and knew my story luckily helped me out, so I didn’t have to explain it all on my own.
My life was never short of these awkward moments. I was now the girl with the story. My life was like a circus, and people couldn’t help but watch.
Our family continued to take life day by day, and tried to laugh through the pain. At the end of the day, there was only so much that could be done.
One thing that I am extremely grateful for is the way that our extended family on the Husong side has accepted my Krizman cousins that I now lived with and called my siblings. This feeling was also mutual for my aunt’s side of the family (the Cavanaughs), as they accepted us as their own cousins without hesitation.
One tradition that my grandma Husong (Mimi) started when I was a baby, was the 12 days of Christmas. This meant that for the weeks leading up to Christmas, we were allowed to open 1 gift a week until Christmas time. This came in handy when I was 5 or so, and my patience was minimal. Christmas always seemed like it was forever away, but with my grandma’s gifts to open, it helped pass the time easier.
When our families merged, my grandma included my cousins, Jake, Kyle, and Lauren, in receiving the 12 days of Christmas without even a second thought. She loved them as if they were her own grandchildren.
Even though our family had some kinks to work out, we were learning to maneuver whatever life threw our way. The one thing that was constant, though, was our love for one another, and that is what helped us through all of life’s ups and downs.