I’m happy to be among the few who can say that they really enjoy their in-laws. My in-laws are a loving, kooky, and generally awesome bunch. There’s the matriarch, Bubby, who is independent, quick-witted, and a fabulous hostess, even at the age of ::ahem::…basically, she’s everything I want to be when I grow up. Her late husband, our Pop, had a smile that came easily and had a way of making you feel better no matter what else the day held. He’s the one they are talking about in that expression, “one of the good ones”. My aunt and uncle in-law are fun, warm, and interesting. My kids consider their home their favorite vacation destination! Then there’s cousin Dave…everyone loves cousin Dave. Life is just more fun when he’s around! My brother and sister in law are the type of people who would drop anything if we needed a hand and my sweet niece…well, she’s one of my 3 favorite girls in the whole world! Last, but certainly not least, is my father-in-law. Ooooohh, what can I say about my father-in-law? (those of you who know him are chuckling right now) He’s just an integral part of the texture of the family…kinda like how banana bread is better with nuts. (kidding!) Seriously, though, he is a man who loves his family and, because of this strong and loyal love, he does his best to grab onto the curve balls we are always throwing his way.
I could never capture the essence of all they are in a paragraph, but suffice it to say that they are just generally wonderful people. I love them, and I’m blessed to be a part of their crew. But, that’s not everyone. Someone is missing. Someone who was taken far too soon.
It was just barely August 27, 1999, when my mother-in-law (not that I had the opportunity to call her that while she was here) passed away after a bitter battle with breast cancer. She was 49 years young. Every life taken by this devastating disease is tragic, but when I think of her, I can’t help but feel like this time the tragedy overflows. I only knew her briefly, during the time when she was at her sickest, so I didn’t meet the ‘real’ her, but I’ve gotten the opportunity to know her well through the stories, pictures, and videos that keep her alive in the hearts of those who love her. She was a woman worthy of being cherished. A patient educator, the type of friend everyone wished they had, a beloved daughter, a devoted wife, and the mother we all strive to be. She was so many things to so many people that when she was taken from this world, there was a gaping hole left behind.
Many years have passed since that terrible day, and with those years have come some healing, but that hole can never be filled, not completely. There is someone missing at birthday celebrations, holidays, and cozy Sunday afternoons. The weddings of her children were joyous occasions, but, if only she could have been there…
She now has 4 beautiful grandchildren and this is when the tragedy strikes me the hardest. She would have been an amazing grandmother (a Bubby!). My children will never feel the warmth of her hugs, her smile, or her spoiling. More than a wonderful Bubby, she would have been an incredible support to the parents of those grandbabies. My heart breaks for my wife when I see the questions in her eyes that she would have asked her mother. I know that her mom still whispers words of hope, patience, and strength into her ear when things get tough, but that will just never be the same.
My mother-in-law is still with us, around us, and part of us…I know because I see her in my wife’s warm brown eyes, easy smile, and generous, loyal soul…but she is still not here. The world was blessed to have her for as long as we did, but the wish will always be that it were longer…much, much, longer.
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This post was written in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please create an early detection plan and encourage those you love to do the same. Too many women are missing.