Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Eve

I considered not posting this. I contemplated not writing this. I wondered who read my blog and worried that if I wrote this and posted it than it would be read by someone who would tell someone else and it would start all sorts of problems. I decided that I don't think the people that I think might say something actually read this blog so I'm going to write it and share it.

Christmas eve was spent at my father in law's house. That's where we always spend Christmas eve. The first Christmas eve after the husband and I were engaged, my entire family was invited to Christmas eve dinner and it was an entire family wide event. Strange but kind of nice. We have not done that since. That's ok. It used to be that Christmas eve was us, my father in law, his girlfriend, my sister in law, whomever she was seeing at the time, and occasionally friends of my father in law's girlfriend. It actually was ok, most of the time. The food is always delicious and the company isn't bad just sometimes awkward.

This was the boy's third Christmas and therefore his third Christmas eve. His third year spending the evening at his grandfather's house. His third year running through the kitchen and down the hallway and back into the living room and dining room- a big loop. His third year marveling at the huge bay window at the front of the house. It was special this year because he's really starting to grasp Christmas and he and grandpa were having a really good time together. He and my sister in law, we'll call her HB, were also having a great time together. It was really nice to see. It was probably one of the best Christmas eves we've had there- except the husband was disappointed at the lack of mashed potatoes. (Seriously!)

My mother in law passed away when the husband was 14. She died of breast cancer. She is one of the reasons I am so very passionate about awareness and working towards a cure. Actually, the husband and the pain that he describes when he talks about his mom and her death, is one of the reasons I'm so passionate about it. I never met my mother in law. I know only what people have told me. I know that she was loved by just about everyone she met. I know that she loved her family and especially her children. I know that she treated her co workers at the family restaurant like sisters and family. I know that she enjoyed throwing a good party. I know that my husband adored her and took it the hardest when she passed. And I know that the pain she had when she passed was not only related to her cancer.

My father in law has been with the same woman for many years, since his wife's passing. She is an interesting person and it has been a trial of fire, at points, to get along with her and treat her civilly. The husband has "issues" with her and she is quite aware of them. She is ever present in their lives and has been for quite some time. She is ever present at the family restaurant where the husband and my brother in law both work. It has been a bumpy road since meeting her and at points I have wanted to say things and do things that would make me less than who I am. She has not always been nice to us, both in front of our faces and behind our backs. But she has been kind to our children. There's a lot more to the relationship we all share but it's not something I feel like going into here or now.

On Christmas eve she was wonderful with the girl. And with the boy, too. She and my father in law spoiled them with affection and gifts. It was really very nice. Seriously, a nice night. A little warm (my father in law is ALWAYS cold so his house is always 110 degrees!) but really a nice night for our kids and for us to all spend together. It was clear that she had gone out and tried to find outfits for the kids that were cute and fit and toys they would enjoy and benefit from. While her actions on this occasion don't negate the things she's done to us in the past, they seemed to be genuine and kind. Honestly, I was surprised and even the husband had nothing nasty to say- almost. The evening was winding down and we were getting all of our things together and loading up the car. The girl was cranky and in her pjs. The boy was running in circles from the cookies and candy he had eaten. We started saying our goodbyes. The boy hugged and kissed and thanked HB and my father in law. My father in law's girlfriend came to say goodbye and the boy gave her a huge hug and kiss, wished her a Merry Christmas and then thanked her. On the surface it was beyond sweet. Our son was the perfect little gentleman and so polite- I was proud and touched. Beyond the surface it really hurt.

As I watched the boy shower his affection on my father in law's girlfriend my heart broke a little bit. I couldn't help but think that my son should be showering his grandmother with love. He should be hugging and kissing her. He should be wrapped in her arms and buried in her neck. He should've been wishing her a Merry Christmas and saying thank you. I had to walk away. I walked out to the car and put something else in it and then stopped. I took a deep breath, cooled down from the sauna inside, and thought for a moment. I thought about my husband and how his heart must break each time he enters his father's (and his mother's) house. I thought about how on our wedding day he wore her rosary around his neck and walked out to the backyard where her ashes are buried and cried because she wasn't there with him- with us. I thought about how when each of our children was born we both wanted her to be with us and meet them in the flesh, as their other grandparents had done. I thought about how important it was for us to use her name when our little girl was born because my husband wanted to honor her. I thought about all of that, took a deep breath and headed back inside. I saw the look on the husband's face when our son embraced my father in law's girlfriend and I'm pretty sure he was thinking the same thing. I cannot imagine what it must be like for him sometimes.

Christmas eve was really wonderful. I truly believe that my mother in law has met my children. A little piece of me believes that she knew them before they were conceived. I believe in Heaven and I believe she, along with many of my family members, is there. I believe she was with us on Christmas eve, and Christmas day. I believe she is there everyday but it still hurts that my children will never ever be wrapped up in the arms of the woman that my husband first gave his heart to.


Monica said...

Ugh - a tear jerker. Thank you for posting. I've got a similar story, although definitely not the same. Thanks for sharing...

Don Mills Diva said...

Wow - what a beautiful post. That was a real tear-jerker. Your mother-in-law sounds like she was a wonderful woman.

Mr Lady said...

That's a toughy. But I am happy for your kids. Happy Christmas!

HRD said...

God has a funny way of doing things.. so think this... every time they hug "the husband" they are hugging her. She left behind a great husband for you and a great father to your children. They will know their grandmother with the story’s you share of her. They will know her inside out, even though she is not here, physically. She is watching. She knows what is going on, she knows you all miss her. God has a plan, and though sometimes we don’t like it, its part of what makes us… US. I cry to think my grandmother passed away and wasn’t there to see the happiest day, thus far, of my life. Did she see it, yes. She was there, in my families hearts. And looking down from up above, most certainly proud. But still I cry. It’s ok, we all miss the people we love and wonder why. But still think, there is a reason, and although you don’t like the way your son said thank you to this other woman this person loves my son and god put her with your family now for a reason.

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