They say that life can change in an instant and that’s the way it happened for us: one moment my mother-in-law was with us and the next she was gone. Fifty-five years old and just days from the birth of her first grandchild, a few months from the birth of her second. There was no warning, no time to say goodbye, and the sudden, unexpected nature of it makes it all the harder to believe.
In the very first hour of Saturday morning we got the call that would change our lives. Pressing into the darkness toward Kyle, I struggled to understand the garbled sounds coming from his phone. Then, as I felt his body crumble beside me, my questions turned from an urgent, “What?” to an insistent, “Who?” As my eyes began to adjust I could see his face, illuminated by the light from the screen, and registered his shock, his confusion. “It’s my mom… she died,” he responded, sounding so fragile, like a lost child. I scrambled to sit up with a sickening mixture of fear and dread, and, taking the phone from his hands, weathered the sounds of my father-in-law’s grief. So much pain and sorrow from a man that I have rarely known to be anything other than upbeat and good-natured. Tethered to us through a cell connection, he stood in a hospital over a thousand miles away.
It was a mistake, it had to be. She had just texted us a few hours ago. She was awake now; they were wrong. Thoughts flew through my brain and crashed to a halt as though hitting a brick wall. Then, for just a moment, reality sank in… only to be swept again just as quickly. This isn’t real…
It is a pattern I have repeated hundreds of times in the last two days. I don’t want to believe it, but if this is a nightmare, I haven’t woken up yet.
Had this happened even a week or two from now she would have been a grandmother. While we are attempting to sort and pick up the pieces of our shattered lives, my husband’s twin, Carl, and his wife, Audrye, face the imminent birth of their child. Grief and anguish has seeped into this time that should be full only of anticipation and joy. My sister-in-law is two days from her due date and feeling the pressure to go into labor so that her husband can fly to Florida to be with his dad. He will miss those first few precious days at home with his son. My heart is broken at the thought of the many ways in which we will all be affected by this incredible loss.
Yesterday morning, just a little more than 24 hours after my mother-in-law’s passing, Kyle and I woke up, packed our bags, and caught a flight south. For the first time, his mom is not here to greet us. We are staying in the house they had just bought and moved into last week. Fresh paint covers the walls and her handwriting is scattered around us on various papers and bills; many of the boxes have yet to be unpacked. Her lists of ideas for my baby shower are resting in a stack beside me as I write. Our son and his cousin will never know their grandmother. Though he is unaware, Sweet Pea has suffered his very first loss in life. She is gone now, and we are all at a loss as to how we can continue without her.
There is a lot to be done in the coming weeks, and because of this I will be taking a short break from the blog. If you think of us, please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers– most especially my father-in-law, Kyle, Carl, Audrye, and my nephew. We are in great need of your love, support, and comfort.
Connie, thank you for helping to raise my husband into the man he is today.