My mother-in-law died a few days ago. She valiantly fought cancer and COPD for the past several years but it finally caught up to her. Having touched so many, she will be greatly missed.
I had no doubt I would hurt for my husband and my children. I didn’t realize how much I would hurt for myself.
This whole week I have felt like I have been run over by a figurative steam roller. How can you feel numb yet experience jabbing pains almost simultaneously?
As people often do when someone who has been in their lives die, my mind replays several scenes with “Red”.
Before my husband and I were married we lived together but we didn’t have a washer and dryer. Mark would go into his mom’s house and do laundry. Well, I thought it he was the one doing it. Imagine my mortification when “Red” told me, quite matter-of-factly, that she had sent out a pair of my underwear out to be mended because it had a hole in it! So not only did Mark’s mom see my less than perfect unmentionables but so did someone else. I could have died.
As daughter-in-laws sometimes do, I took exception at times to my mother-in-law’s “suggestions” and her seemingly trying to override our decisions as parents. We didn’t agree on everything and she did love to spoil the kids. We won on the “My sized Barbie” but she would find a way to slip in little victories like ice cream before dinner.. I have to hand it to her though, she was an equal opportunity “spoiler”.
I found out I was pregnant when my daughter was about 2 years old. Mark was in between jobs and when he told his mom, she didn’t seem too thrilled. In fact she said to him “don’t you think that is a bit irresponsible?”. Looking back I think it was just because she worried if we could provide for another child right then but I was angry that she would say something like that
I was hurting and battered when I walked into her house after finding out that I had miscarried that child. Mark was at work and I had to go to the appointment alone. I wanted to say “I hope you are happy” but any bitterness was washed away by our mutual tears. She cried with me as a mother who had long ago also lost a child, as a grandmother mourning a future grandchild and simply as a woman in pain.
I will never forget that and will be forever grateful.
This past week has been hard. I saw my husband cry for the first time. I have seen my son transformed, from a gangly teen who hates to go shopping for any clothes, into a young man patiently insisting on getting a suit coat because “it is the right thing to do”
You read about it in a sad story, you see it in the “movie of the week” but you aren’t prepared when you play back all those old messages and hear “Mark, it’s me mom. Give me a call when you get in”. The voice is familiar and strong not faint or frail. It is a voice you expect to hear again yet knowing you never will.
I have been listening to a lot of Clay Aiken. I have literally needed to in order to get through this week. His voice soothes me. I listen to the hauntingly beautiful “Lover All Alone” and my tears fall freely . I am comforted by “I Will Carry You” and it reminds me of “Red” because she was always there for everyone.
If I touch half as many people’s hearts as she did, I will consider myself blessed. Actually, for having known her, I already am.