I vaguely remember the first time I met my mother-in-law. I was 16 years old in the passenger seat of my boyfriend’s car praying that he would hurry up running into his house. The praying went unanswered and before I knew it his little sister was at my window telling me to come in. That was the night. We were just stopping by to pick up a sweatshirt or something. This was not the night I was planning to met his parents!
I took a deep breath and followed his sister inside. There sat his mom, step-dad, and grandmother visiting with one another, talking with a southern drawl that I had never heard outside of the movie theater. I remember his mom asking me if I had eaten dinner and offering me a plate. Unsure of what her southern dish was, I passed. In retrospect, I wish I had taken the offer. I wish I would have sat down and listened and soaked in these women, for they would have an enormous effect on my life.
My mother-in-law is something different. In the 16 years that she has been part of my life I cannot tell you one time that she was angry with me, one time that she was mean to me, one time that she disagreed with me. She often lets me tattle on her son and then offers a shoulder for me to cry on after tattling. She is my confidant. She has taught me how to be a mother to our boys, a wife to her son, and most of all, she taught me to be still and that everything would work out.
After 16 years together, my boyfriend and I are having a wedding. We are finally getting married after two kids, college, a home, jobs, and many ups and downs. My mother-in-law has been amazing during the entire wedding planning process, loving everything and always offering to help.
Our most recent conversation was about how she wasn’t feeling well, how I wanted to help her more, how much we wanted to be better kids to her. Her reply was, “You are already the best.” My relationship with her was what the ideal relationship is. She lifted me up. My life was better because she was in it.
This past April she lost her battle with cancer. We are no longer as excited about Mother’s Day or the upcoming wedding. Our hearts hurt all around and we struggle to find joy. This Mother’s Day will be different – this one will hurt.
The mama in our house will do her best to carry on a normal day. I hear everyone say it will get better, and I am trusting that it will. Our loss is still so fresh and we are holding on to our memories.