At one point during my marriage, it became very obvious that my then husband’s family was going to be important to me. Not having a large family, and having a kind of failed relationship with my sister, I became closer and closer to them. My mother in law and I became instant friends. We spoke daily after our husbands would leave for work. It was a lovely time spent in the morning chatting with her over a cup, or two of coffee.
As time passed, and children came, she vicariously shared their lives. She was a second wife and could have no children of her own. She loved my children and I loved her for loving them.
Losing that relationship was one of the most painful parts of my marriage. I tried to keep it. We both tried hard to maintain it, but the awkward took over. My ex remarried, and loyalties shifted. It was painful for me to keep that connection. I went cold turkey like a cigarette smoker trying to quit. I cried for that loss. I cried every time the kids came home from a visit, and the warm wishes and little gifts or left overs would be sent home to me. Clearly I was missed as well.
Family events that brought us all together were especially difficult. When my father in law hugged me and whispered in my ear that I was still his favorite, the union inspired glares from my replacement and my Ex. Secretly happy for the public show of love and respect, I knew that their love for me would cause her to feel like the outsider for some time. I am reasonably certain that it still bugs her to this day. I was loved by the family she was trying to impress. Not my problem, I thought. I don’t deserve to be erased. I was an important part of their lives for over a decade. I held their hands when they cried and I know it was a loss when I was suddenly no longer a part of the family.
Still Facebook friends with some relatives, I saw a post that caused some concern. Days later, I found out that my ex-mother in law had suffered a stroke.
My beautiful friend would be OK, but her speech would be slow. She was in the hospital, and would remain for some time. Alternating between tears and anger, I texted my Ex to scold him. You should have told me, I said. He said he knew, but he was waiting until he could get to the hospital to see her. He knew it would greatly upset me. He apologized. The kids had not been told either until that day.
This was the woman who taught me how to breast feed my baby. I would love her always.
The price of divorce is high. The unplanned costs can be devastating. We can lose our spouses and our homes, and we can get over that. Things are simply that… we can get over the loss of a thing. I am reasonably certain that I will never get over the loss my found family.
I did call her and sadly was unable to speak with her. She was napping, so I spoke to her sister. We sniffled a bit together, and she told me that the call would mean more than I could possibly imagine.
I am somewhat relieved that I could not speak to her. I don’t know if I have the emotional strength to call again. She knows she is loved. That knowledge may have to be enough.
Crying as I type this, I have nothing left to offer.