The Add-on Family
My cousin didn’t celebrate Idulfitri with the family this year. She celebrated it with her husband’s family in a different city. New thing for her, for me, and us. I chatted her “Safe flight!” an hour before the departure. She replied with “Thank you.”. When I was about to close the chat, I saw her typing… So I waited. “It’s weird. You usually said that to me and two hours later, we’d be in the same house.”. I sent her a sticker. And closed the chat.
On D-day, I saw a bunch of Instagram stories people posting about their families. Some wrote lengthy text, some were just still images of people with uniformed clothings and mask. There were some who celebrated their firsts as well, just like my cousin. They’re fusing and finally fit inside the frame. It was bizzare seeing my cousin’s photo updates without her siblings, but in-laws. However, it was also relieving to see she still had the same smile she’s been putting on with us for decades.
As our relatives asked for her whereabouts, the follow up questions ended up asking “How about you?”. And by “how about you?”, it didn’t mean purely asking about — just — me, but it also consisted of curiosity about a still hypothetical partner.
To think about it now, one day I would be the “missing” family member in annual gatherings. I would have my own add-on family. I‘d become someone’s add-on to an (im)perfectly functioning family. I’d have that (hopefully not) awkward first photo with my add-on family. I’d be that Teteh who showed up in my big family Idulfitri gathering only one time every two years.
The fact that I’m the only child, doesn’t ease my own mind. There are a lot of what ifs going on inside my head. First, the still hypothetical partner. One of it being would he tolerate my only-child-situation? Second, my parents. Would they be fine with me spending more time with my add-on family? Would they be alright without me?
I don’t know how many more Idulfitri I can spend with my birth family. What I know is my partner is still hypothetical. So… yeah, we still have the time. I hope.