Friday, February 08, 2013


It's only been two weeks since my mother in law died. A whirlwind of sudden activity after two weeks of excruciating limbo (aka "hospice"). I'm still surprised when I'm in a conversation with a friend and suddenly the wave crashes over me and I'm in tears.

I feel like I led a very sheltered life when I was young. Didn't have a big family; stayed home a great deal of the time because my father worked nights for a quarter century, and the necessary sleeping also precluded socializing at home. And I was more or less clueless about some life experiences, because I spent the vast majority of my free time sitting on my couch being quiet.

Every now and then something happens to me and I metaphorically kick myself for not realizing what other people go through. It happened when I had cancer. It was abstract for me, until I walked in for my first round of chemo. I was suddenly mortified to be fairly cheerful (to give myself a break, maybe optimistic is a better word, since my prognosis was good) and young-ish and somewhat strong compared to some of the frail older people I saw there. By my second round I was looking around the room thinking guilty thoughts like "wait... That kicked my ass... How do these older people get through this ?" (keep in mind I don't mean that in any offensive way...I swear... It was an instinctive protectiveness. Can't I do this for them? They shouldn't have to do this.) Then my third round I had the allergic reaction in mid- dose, and all eyes were on me. Beyond horrible. I aged mentally so much that year. I felt "young" until all of the surgeries and complications and treatments...and humbled to know that some people slog through this for months and years.

I went by a cemetery the other day- one I drive by all the time. I'm sure I even have pictures of it on Instagram, because the sun was hitting a certain way, or the leaves or the snow or something detoured me temporarily on my way to work.

But this time, I had this sudden rush or melancholy as I briefly took in HOW MANY STONES THERE ARE. And every one was someone who died and was mourned by a gathering of people who were crushed that they will never see that person again.

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In an interesting twist, my two year old niece has recently picked up a habit of pointing at a picture of my mother in law and saying "angel". The only time that word has been presented to her is in relation to a lighted Christmas figurine. So where did this come from? You tell me. My mother in law used to love seeing pictures of her on my iPhone. Is she checking up on her? I hope so.