In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month being almost over, I want to write about something I’m sure everyone can relate to in some way. I want to write about Debbie. Most of you don’t know Debbie, and there isn’t enough space or time here to give you a description of all her endearing qualities that will do her justice. In short, she is my mother-in-law, and Tayler’s warm and loving grandmother that will never get to meet her in person. Thanks a lot, cancer. You surely do suck.
I want to talk about what its like to raise a child without having someone that would’ve been such an integral part of their life. Maybe its a grandparent, parent, sibling, aunt or uncle, or a very dear family friend. No matter the title of the relation, and no matter the reason they are gone – its hard. Very emotionally delicate, and very difficult to navigate. Has anyone written a manual on how to deal with this yet?!
Am I keeping their memory alive enough? Or trying to do too much? Am I being respectful of everyone else’s feelings who miss her, too? How do I explain why she’s gone in a way Tayler will understand? How do I show Tayler how much this woman she’ll never meet would’ve meant to her? How do I help my husband get through these feelings as well? How do I deal with my feelings and grief over it without being weak when I need to be strong? Will Tayler or our future kids ever feel a sadness or longing for someone they’ve never met? Is she proud of the mother I’ve become? Holidays and milestones are difficult – but its the day-to-day happenings that are the hardest. You feel guilty when a moment that should be pure joy has a shadow of heart ache in the background. And you feel guilty when a moment that should be pure joy IS met with pure joy.
Yes – she’s somewhere watching over Tayler. Debbie is watching her grow, learn, and play from afar with what I’m sure is the biggest smile her face will allow. And Debbie is without a doubt the fiercest angel we could possibly have in our home. For that, I am so thankful. It’s just hard to remind yourself of this when the, “Debbie would get a kick out of this!” or “You know Debbie would be doing this with her right now!” overwhelm your thoughts at times.
I find some solace in knowing that Tayler does have a grandma here, however, that loves her more than life, spoils her, and finds no greater joy than watching her grow and holding her in her arms. She’s got a remarkable grandmother here (love you, Mom!), and a remarkable grandmother up there. For that too, I am thankful.
I’m not sure if time ever really heals the hurt, but I can promise Debbie that we will keep on living life joyfully, enthusiastically, and will keep her memory alive and well.
And next time you get upset about the effects time and aging have on your body, just remind yourself that to age is a privilege denied to many. I know Debbie would give anything to be here playing and laughing with her sweet and vibrant granddaughter – wrinkles and all.
Ok, but seriously – who is going to write that manual??