Since she took the step and that's a big thing for her, I wrote her back (had to mail it because she left for home this morning), and this is what I said:
Dear (sis in law's name),
I am sorry for the events that led to our fractured relationship. It was important for both of us to air our grievances in order for us to move forward and try to build any sort of relationship. You had concern about my relationship with your parents, and I was concerned about your treatment of your brother. We both had different perspectives and that’s okay. It is how the world works; just like it’s the nature of brothers to protect their sisters by saying they wanted to shoot their sister in law in the head (I get why (brother in law) felt that way and while the threat of death in front of (Cousin)’s girls was alarming, I get it. My brothers do the same thing with me and I expected nothing less from your brother in protecting you). For what it’s worth, I chewed out (Baldman) about his treatment of you as well, because he was acting like a brat toward you while we were there (if you’ve ever seen NCIS, think of Mark Harmon smacking his team upside the head for acting like idiots, only while driving home from our last visit).
And thank you for acknowledging the work on your grandma’s party. I really appreciate how much you and (her husband) helped as well. Your mom and grandma needed a day like that with all their family around. I’ve gotten used to not being included. It was made clear to me that I am not truly family and that I do not fit in, so I was expecting to be left out; if it hadn’t been for the fact that the party was for your grandma and to thank your mom for taking such good care of her, I would have cancelled my contributions to the party and found something else to do for them on my own time. As it was, I figured it would be easier if I stayed in the kitchen or taking care of the food and clean up so that those who are considered family could enjoy their time with grandma; that way, no drama would taint her party any more than it already had behind the scenes. I didn’t expect to be appreciated, except for by your mom and grandma who thanked me already; since the party was for them, that’s all that really mattered. It still hurts that the family up here couldn’t be bothered to return phone calls or even bother communicating about putting the party together, especially since it was based on their idea of a reunion that never got planned, but I’ve come to expect it. It sucks, but nothing can be done to change who they are, only the way I handle it.
I’m different; I get that, and I’ve gotten used to behavior like that which was exhibited at the party and at other family functions. I also live by the philosophy that everyone is different and unique, and therefore have something positive to contribute to the lives of everyone that they know. It’s why I still try to help people I consider family and care about them, even when fighting is involved. It’s why when I was planning out this party I logged in to (Baldman)’s profile and made sure you were one of the first people invited so that you could have fun with your family that you rarely get to see. It’s why I still care about you, (her husband) and the kids. It’s why when you said I was trying to take your position in your family I asked your mother how she saw our relationship, because all I saw it was as a good friendship based on mutual experiences, and then suggested to her that she try to reassure you that you were her daughter and nothing would get in the way of that; if only because if I was feeling that way about my brother (soldierboy)’s wife, I would want reassurance from my parents, too.
I am hoping that over time we can work out our issues and try to build some sort of relationship; if not a friendship, then at the very least a relationship cordial enough to handle being around each other when needed. From the way your grandma is deteriorating, I have the feeling that will be vital to help your mom get through things when she passes on, because she’ll need all of us to lean on.
Fractures can heal. It’s just something that takes time and care. In time, we’ll probably get there.
We'll see how that all goes.