The In-Law

Last week was very rough for me.  I've had a lot of things going on and I struggled with 'fronting for the blog and the gram', so I decided I would take a small break. However, writing is very therapeutic for me and this blog is called 'the truth...'.

My mother-in-law has been in and out of the hospital for the better part of the past month.  She lives in Denmark and a lot of times when people are far away, I think it's hard to maintain a strong relationship. Even with family. Last week, she got progressively worse and it really hit me how bad her condition is. Much of the information I receive is filtered through my husband who is or was for the most part in denial, so I think on the one hand I didn't realize how bad things are. On the other hand, I was most likely in a little denial myself and just felt like things had to and would get better.

When my husband and I got married, my mother in law came to stay with us for a week before our wedding. His father came as well. (My in-laws are divorced but have a great friendship and come together for their children.) Since we live in separate countries, we have only spent minimal time together and our relationship is mostly limited to emails and phone calls. For some reason, people rarely describe their 'in-laws' positively. In fact, I have a friend who always refers to his in-laws as 'the outlaws'. However, my mother-in-law is truly one of the kindest people I know. When she came for our wedding, I remember thinking to myself, if she continues to be like this, I am truly lucky. At the same time, I remember also thinking, 'if she turns out to be nasty, hey, she doesn't live here and at least I won't really have to deal with her.

As it turned out, we had a nice time during that visit and at my reception, she pulled me aside and said, 'when you have your baby, I will come and help you.' I was deeply touched by this display of warmth. My own mother wasn't even at my reception. In fact, up until an hour before my wedding, I had no knowledge of my parents coming to my wedding at all but here was my mother-in-law coming from another country to not only celebrate with us but to let me know she will be there for us when we start to grow our family.

She visited us during my fertility treatments.  She was recovering from pneumonia at the time and never told us until after she arrived.  She and I went out a few times. She made me laugh. She made sure I knew, I would have to stop drinking when I got pregnant. I laughed. Of course I knew this. She couldn't wait to have a grandchild. I couldn't wait to give her one. We talked about going to Mexico together as a family trip. At the time, I thought to myself that I was truly blessed to have a mother in law like this.

When I finally got pregnant, she cried when we called her and shared the news. She wanted to come almost right away but knew she didn't need to. She went back and forth between coming over shortly before the baby was due or a few weeks after. Ultimately, she decided she would let us have a little time to enjoy him together and then she would come for a few weeks. She would return after my maternity leave was over for five months.

It is difficult to express the feeling of leaving my son to go back to work when my maternity leave ended. The true gravity of all the emotions I experienced can hardly be captured in words but I will try to write all about this at another time. Knowing that my son’s grandmother was caring for my son while I was at work, made my transition back to work much easier. I also began my first semester at graduate school and had a couple of late nights after work for class. Mor (mom in Danish) was there. Sometimes she made dinner too. We enjoyed brunch together on the weekends. We took a family trip to Tulum. I really enjoyed having her around. Of course we had our moments as many people do, but in general, she was like a surrogate mother to me during this precious and important milestone in my life that I am always eternally grateful for.

When my son was dedicated to God during her stay, she was there.  My own parents were not. I was embarrassed. My father-in-law came over from London to be a part of this sacred moment and milestone. My parents were an hour away. Mor could not understand it but I think experiencing my family dynamics helped her to understand me a little more and helped us to communicate even better.

The past week, I felt such an overwhelming sense of grief that I could not understand what was wrong with me. I felt bad for my husband, of course, because this was his mother and in a brief amount of time, she went from not doing so well to getting progressively worse. Finally, I began to understand that my own sorrow arose from the feeling of potentially losing a parental figure myself. I feel anguish that a beautiful woman who I have come to love and adore and who was there for me in my time of need, is going through this difficult time. I feel a sense of despair that the woman who filled this gaping hole of caretaker in my adult life, is battling to get her health back. Our distance makes it harder for me; I want to be there for her, during this time, the way she was there for me. We are planning to go and see her, and I’m praying we can encourage her and help her get her health back to where it needs to be.  I’m praying seeing her grandson will be a turning point for her.

Any advice for dealing with a sick loved one?  I’d love to hear from you, in the meantime, stay healthy and tell the people you love how you feel about them.