Yesterday we had to pick Son #2 up early from football because we had another commitment on the calendar.
He was not expecting us.
As he ran off of the field I could see alarm on his face.
"Is everything okay? What's wrong? Did something happen to Grandma?"
But we assured him nothing had happened.
Late last night, the phone rang and it was my husband's sister. Calling to give an update on my mother in law.
Son #2 again is greatly concerned.
"Why did Aunt Betsy call? Is Grandma okay?"
I assured him nothing had happened.
But since everyone has gone to school something is happening.
I'm sitting here. Thinking. Trying to decide what to do with myself.
My husband got the phone call this morning that his mother was expected to pass away very soon. Could be hours. Could be days. None the less - it is the end.
His parents live two and half hours away. He has packed his bag and driven to be with them. I am here - taking care of our family.
She has been ill for a couple of months now with various ailments and conditions. In and out of the hospital, rehab and finally a nursing home. We have ridden quite a roller coaster of emotion while sorting out details and planning the next step.
My mother in law is eighty years old. My husband at 51 years old, is the youngest of her four children. Since her initial hospitalization two months ago, he has faithfully driven to and from his parents side doing whatever he can to help with the ongoing crisis.
I've listened and counseled. Trying to do and say what I feel is helpful. But really not capable of understanding how he must be feeling. Tho I can imagine the horror I would feel if it were my mother.
He is the only sibling with younger children at home. His three older siblings have 10 adult children combined ranging from 31 to 21 years old. My husband and I have the youngest grandchildren. Seventeen through eleven years old.
As I await the phone call from my husband - I've attempted to clean my home. Make a pot roast. Baked potatoes. Remember to answer the questions that Son #3 is asking me while he homeschools. But honestly? My mind is swirling with a million other thoughts.
While dusting, I find the candleholder she gave me for my birthday after I complimented hers. The pile of magazines that sit on my end table for me to peruse reminds me of the countless conversations we had about our love of catalog shopping and the swapping we did over the last 20 years. It seems that everywhere I turn is a mark that she has left upon my home over the years - without me even realizing she had done so.
I've thought of all of the different things that will be required of me over the next week. As his wife. But today I've thought about something new. Some things that had not crossed my mind prior to today.
She is my mother in law. A very unique position to hold indeed. I consider many things. I love her for giving life to my husband. I love her for the long list of memories that she helped to create in our family. I love her for the grandmother she has been to my children.
Yes, I will have to tell my children, won't I?
They knew she was failing and that things were progressively getting worse. On Tuesday she was released from the hospital to hospice care at the nursing home that she had lived in for only one day before she was taken to the hospital again.
Typically, when I parent, I draw from my previous experience. So instinctively I began to go back in my mind to search for commonality to help me guide the kids today.
But frankly - I have none.
Not this time.
My grandfather died when I was 18 years old. The next when I was 26. And both of my grandmothers when I was 35 years old. I had adult relationships with those women. They watched me marry and held their great grandchildren. We had evolved into something so much more than an adult/child relationship. When they passed, I had so many more memories solidified. A much more concrete relationship with each of them. And I was able to deal with their deaths as an adult.
But my children?
They are young. Young to lose their grandmother. In fact, my daughter is 11 years old. I am clueless how she will respond. The things her mind will think. The questions that will roll off of her lips.
My children's memories will be vastly different than those that I carry of my grandparents. In fact, they will be vastly different than any of their cousins. Dealing with death as an adult is unlike dealing with it as a child.
So today I find myself in unchartered parenting territory.
I find myself in unchartered marriage territory.
I find myself in unchartered daughter in law territory.
My husband will gather with his father and mother, brothers and sister.
I feel helpless.
Walking in circles.
Wanting to be with my husband.
Awaiting his phone call.
Awaiting the homecoming of my children.
Awaiting the words I will eventually have to say.
"Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation . . ." ~ Psalm 5:1-3