Most people seem to have horror stories when it comes to their in-laws. I feel like the exception to the rule. While both of my marriages turned out to be more dysfunctional than the 2016 election cycle, my relationships with both sets of in-laws was fantastic.
Specifically, my second mother-in-law.
From the get-go she was amazing. She treated me as her own son. She made me feel welcome in her household and her family, despite having recently lost her only son to suicide. She treated the twins as her own grandsons. She made them feel loved and spoiled them whenever she had the chance.
There was a point in time when I found out that the twins mom had been lying to me for almost a year about having them insured. My boys had not had health insurance for ten months. It was mid-summer and the only way I could add them to my insurance was a status change. My only recourse was seek a court order mandating that I provide health insurance for the boys, but doing so would’ve cost $750, which I didn’t have at the time because roughly half of my paychecks were going towards child support.
J (my MIL) spotted me the money to get an attorney. With that money, I was able to get my children health insurance, have my child support reduced so I could actually afford to live, and got 50/50 custody of my children. For that alone I will forever be grateful.
She was amazing when C was born. She was glowing. You couldn’t stop her from smiling. She smothered my child with more love than he’ll probably know for the rest of his life. She came down every weekend to see him. She played with him. She took walks with him. She volunteered to babysit so that his mother and I could go out. She was madly in love.
After B and I separated, she still treated me like a son. There was absolutely no animosity. She’d randomly email me during the day to ask how I was doing. When she came down with B to pick up C, she always gave me a hug and told me she loved me. She understood that I was devastated and let me know that if I ever needed anything all I need do was ask. We were still family.
This past June I received my final birthday card from her. Less than a week later she had a brain aneurism, and, though she was saved by an amazing surgeon that night, still had to live out her days in hospice care.
I visited her a handful of times over the next few months. The first time I visited her she proudly told the nurses that I was her son-in-law, even though that hadn’t been true for nearly three years. Her condition worsened due to fluid build up in her head and her sanity seemed to evaporate. For brain exercise they had her work on puzzles, but at one point when I visited her she though everything was a puzzle. It was tough to witness and, I’m ashamed to admit, I didn’t visit much after that because it was simply too hard for me to deal with.
I had planned on visiting her over Christmas break, but my car broke down twice and the next thing I knew, I received a phone call telling me she had passed away. Even though her brain was recovering, her heart condition had worsened.
Today we said goodbye to J. There is something oddly unsettling about my 5-year-old wiping away my tears as I sob uncontrollably and telling me everything is going to be okay. It’s supposed to be the other way around. I don’t think C yet understands what has transpired, or the magnitude of the loss he has suffered.
I will always remember her unmistakable laugh, her sarcastic wit, and her resiliency. She was the embodiment of love and I will forever be thankful for the time I was able to spend with her. The world is a much darker place without her.
Be at peace, Judy. I will do my best to live my life, and raise your grandson, in a way that would make you proud. Though we only knew each other for a short time, you had a huge impact on my life. I miss you, and I’m glad your suffering has ended. I miss you, and love you.