Tag Archives: mother-in-law

Such a beautiful morning

I went into Caedmon’s room early this morning to borrow her comb and spray bottle. She was sleeping, and my attempts at being quiet of course made more noise than necessary. She awoke, but the most amazing thing happened. Not only did she wake up, but when I looked at her, she had a giant smile on her beautiful face. It was a smile that lit up her eyes and lifted my spirit. There was no apparent reason for her joyful countenance, but it touched my heart in a way I haven’t felt in a while. Immediately, her pearly white beam said to me, “Another day! How exciting! I can’t wait!”.

I don’t know about you, but I can assume the vast majority of us do not start our days with that kind of enthusiasm! For the past few months, not only have I not looked forward to the start of a new day, but I have dreaded each start, afraid to feel only anxiety and loss and sadness. I have very reluctantly dragged my broken spirit through every roller coaster of a day; either not feeling at all, or feeling so much I can’t concentrate or even breathe; fighting every invasive thought that enters my confused and angry mind.

Many years ago, long before it had a name, I began ‘cutting’ myself. I would carve tiny incisions into my wrist, just to feel something – to let myself know I wasn’t completely dead inside. For a few days this past month, I wanted so badly to cut myself again, this time engraving words of hate and anger and disgust. Loathe. Hate. Sick. Fear. Hell. Gone. Void. Dead. Fall. Fail. I could envision myself doing it. I contemplated how to go about hiding it from my husband. I imagined what a release it would be to experience the knife in my skin again, shredding away the unwelcome thoughts that trespassed.

A friend of mine reminded me that lamentation is one of many parts of worship. Another friend brought me back to Job, showing me where Job’s relationship with God was purely hearsay before God allowed Satan to destroy everything that was his life, less his beating heart. Job did not truly appreciate the awesomeness of God before he suffered through every adversity imaginable. He learned through writhing pain that because it was from God, it was good and flowing with purpose.

I am struggling without Rhonda. I miss her so much, I think I actually feel my heart ache. Jeremy and I felt so abandoned when we couldn’t be a part of her funeral. Now, it seems Papa Boyd is doing all he knows how to include us. Because of this, we are spending quite a bit of time with him. Wonderful? Yes. Without pain and agony? No. But, we are so grateful for the time he is giving us. Life is just different without Rhonda – she was such a moving force in our lives.

This summer, my family and I have undergone some fairly intense crap. My mother-in-law’s husband of 10+ years somehow decided he was going to come to my house to sleep with me. Ewww. We then found out he had actually invited me via note (which I did not read) to come to his house while Barbara was out of town, and had been planning his visit to my house for quite some time. Needless to say, my kids were crushed, as they loved their papa. That has been the most painful part of this entire drama. That he would do something so stupid, only to risk his relationship with his grandkids he adored? My mother-in-law left him, and is now divorcing him. He is no longer part of our lives, as Jeremy put a stop to that as soon as I told him what happened. Unfortunately, just because he’s not a physical presence, he is the elephant in the room. The kids don’t know exactly what happened, only that it was wrong and we are protecting them. I can still feel him kissing me, touching my shoulder, hugging me, stroking my face…yuck, yuck, yuck.

Life is full of pain. Full of heartache. Full of problems. Trouble. Affliction. Irritation. Torture. Agony. Sin. Only through all of this do we see the beauty of what Christ did for us on the cross of Calvary. The magnificence of His sacrifice on behalf of His creation who sinned against Him. The brilliance of God’s plan to save our souls through Love, not law. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians how important suffering is to our relationship with Christ. Because we suffer, we understand Christ’s suffering. Because we fall, we appreciate the blood that flowed from His sinless veins. Because we hurt, we reach out to those who are hurting, expressing Christ’s love for them through His death. And, as I am going to get tattooed on my hand as a constant reminder, it is the ‘but nots’ of life that give us hope in Jesus :

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

We are hard pressed on every side, BUT NOT crushed;

perplexed, BUT NOT in despair; persecuted, BUT NOT abandoned;

struck down, BUT NOT destroyed.

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus,

so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

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fighting through the sorrow

The storm yesterday seemed much too appropriate and ironic to be appreciated. It started a few days ago with the winds blowing from an unfamiliar direction, revealing to us that ‘something’ was coming. Winds from the southeast are always an indication of unsettling atmospheric conditions. The force that traveled through was unstoppable and nerve-racking. The helplessness that accompanies those heavy gales is paralyzing. I watched from the shelter of my home as my new baby tree was being whipped about. I groaned from behind the safety of my window as I saw the awning of our swing being shred to pieces. I reacted with shock and surprise as our pool was lifted off the ground and hurled over the privacy fence. I grimaced as I heard the siding being ripped from the house, exposing it to the ferocious wind and water to come. And come it did…

Once the tears started, cessation was impossible. I haven’t felt this kind of loss since my father died 15 years ago. This sensation of grief is on an entirely different plane.

I was a teenager when my dad died after 8 days in the hospital, waiting for a heart transplant. (He was a diabetic, and by the time he felt enough pain to go the ER, his heart had already deteriorated to 25%. One of the nasty side effects of diabetes is neuropathy, a condition where your nervous system is diseased and does not react to pain. Dad was moved from #14 on the national heart waiting list to #1. He had 2 hearts come into the hospital – the first one too badly damaged from a car accident, the second ended up containing cancer. After 8 days, he lost the battle for his life.) I was very young, and only knew Dad as a ‘weekend visit’ or ‘holiday break’. After we moved from New Mexico to Wyoming, the weekend visits had even come to a halt. Anyway, my point is, I was young and only knew Dad on a fairly superficial level.

Rhonda started out as a ‘mother-in-law’, as she was Jeremy’s second mom. Jeremy had dated their oldest daughter in high school, then the daughter’s best friend in college (yeah, he was a playa’). Boyd and Rhonda introduced him to Christ, and loved him as a son. When Jeremy wanted to propose, Rhonda was the one he called 4 times when he was buying my ring. “What should I get her?” “What will she like?” “Am I spending too much?” “Am I spending enough?”. She was bombarded with questions that day! It took me a while to warm up to her. I felt kind of odd having married her daughter’s ex-boyfriend. I assumed she wouldn’t like me for that reason alone. Of course, over the course of the next few months, I grew to love her. Our son was their first ‘grandchild’, though not by blood. They always opened their hearts and arms to him as though he was. Papa Boyd and Grandma Rhonda were his favorite people to be with. 10 years later, when Papa and Grandma come into church, he leaves Mom and Dad, and even friends, to sit with them.

I used to tell Jeremy that Rhonda was the perfect balance of a mother and mother-in-law. She was caring enough to ask about our lives and want to be part of our lives, yet she never intruded. That was definitely one of the perks to not being her actual children! We had the benefits, but none of the disadvantages.

Right now, it feels very odd and awkward to be on the outside. I don’t want to impose on the family’s time of planning Rhonda’s funeral, yet I don’t want to wait until then to see Papa. I had a voicemail last night telling me when the funeral was and would I please bring a salad or dessert for the reception? I already knew when the funeral was, as we talk to Boyd throughout the day. It felt like a knife in the heart to be expected to bring a food item to the funeral. Not that I can’t make a simple batch of cookies or a nice pasta salad, for crying out loud! But to be on the outside… We are not part of their family. We were a part of Boyd and Rhonda, but not their daughters. We were welcome into their home as family, but only until their daughter and grandkids moved in after a divorce. It’s been different since then. I never wanted to add to the chaos by having us and the kids stop in. It feels strange to be on the outside, especially now. What am I to do with this heartache?

Like our house, my heart has been exposed to the elements. Unexpected sorrow enters in with the pain, the anguish, the agony of having lost such a good friend and a woman whom we loved as a mom and grandma. The forceful winds gust through my soul and shake my sense of comfort. Rhonda was always available to talk to, ask advice of, and share life with. Granted, there was always a line to access such, but that’s only because of who she was and who she represented. She was a picture of Christ, inside and out. With all of her physical persecution, she still continued to work as hard as her body would allow her. She was committed to her husband, her home and her daughters. She put everyone else first, loving others more than herself. She very seldom complained of her ailments, even though she has been plagued with illness and injury for years.

I’m so very grateful and excited for her; for the fact that she is in God’s glory as I write this, and is without pain and suffering and tears. I’m so very broken and lamentable for what we have all lost as a friend, a sister, a mother, a daughter and a wife. The world is a lesser place for having lost such a remarkable human being and an incredible example of God’s love.