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Location: Midwest, United States

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry Christmas?

It was a week or so ago, I’d guess, when I heard word that my (ex) Mother-in-Law suffered a grievous stroke. The news came second-hand. I don’t remember the exact day. What I do recall is that, for the first and only time in my life, I experienced a full-blown anxiety attack. It was surreal. Painful. Terrifying.

The prognosis was not good. She was half-paralyzed. Unable to speak. Intensive care. Feeding tube.

She didn’t deserve this. She had lived an exemplary life.

Hers was a gentle, generous soul well-versed in forbearance, patience, endurance, grace and kindness. She was nearing the end of her ninth decade (and still going strong) until the day a clot blocked an artery that kept her brain alive...

After the anxiety attack came ineffable sadness.

But there’s more to this tale...

* * *

I had called her “Mom” right from the git-go. It came naturally.
I loved her as much as I loved my own parents. Here’s the thing:
I vanished from her life the day I divorced her daughter. It no longer mattered that I loved her just the same (and loved her daughter, still, in my own way). I was no longer a “son”.

And so it came to be that I learned of my Mother’s fate from relative strangers.

* * *


Blogger RNSANE said...

Oh, Jonas, I am so sad to hear that. What a loss that your relationship ended with your divorce. It is wonderful that you felt so warmly toward her and I, imagine, she loved you as well. Isn't it a shame that divorce does this to friendships but I guess that is the way it is.

Wed Dec 30, 12:51:00 AM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Hugs to you, Jonas... it is horrible to hear that someone you care(d) about has taken so ill... and terrifying for you with the anxiety attack.

But know, also, that if the stroke was fairly recent, that she may recover a fair bit of function. Early on, it is common to see the paralysis and feeding tubes and such, but many people (I won't get your hopes up too high by saying all, because that's not true) recover enough over time that they can lead relatively normal lives. The brain can do amazing things...

I know someone who went from 'should have been dead' to 'living on his own with some assistance' in a matter of 6 months.

There's hope... please don't despair totally. And if you can (feel you can and/or are able to) go visit her, then do. It may be something that will benefit the both of you.

Wed Dec 30, 01:12:00 AM  
Blogger L'uragano (The Hurricane) said...

Jonas, it sounds as if she passed...if so...I am so, so sorry. In any case, I am sorry. No one should suffer. Ever. Relationships don't always adhere to our conventions and decrees. I miss my ex-brother-in-law and ex-nieces and nephews. I HATE that I lose them in the process. Take care, friend.

Wed Dec 30, 01:24:00 AM  
Blogger secret agent woman said...

I still get birthday cards from my former mother-in-law, but rarely see her - it's a strange thing when you divorce a person how you also can lose a family.

No your MIL didn't deserve what happened, but so few people do deserve illnesses. Any trip to a children's hospital will show you that. It sounds like she is the kind of person who would not curse her fate, however. I hope I can have that kind of grace when it is time.

Wed Dec 30, 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger June Calender said...

Mostly when people say "I feel your pain" they don't. In this case I do. Christmas brought notice that a man I've loved a long time had a stroke in September. His son wrote me a note as dictated to him. No one "deserves" a stroke. To me it's the worst nightmare. I didn't have a panic attack but great sadness because this man, although in his 80s, still thought himself invincible. I had at times hoped to be able to be with him when serious problems arose. That was not to be so, like you, I am a helpless hurter. Very best to you. When you cannot help others you must help yourself.

Wed Dec 30, 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger deb said...

I don't know Jonas, having a massive stroke in your late eighties sounds more like a blessing than a curse. It would be my preference, without the ICU stay or the feeding tube though.

Can you visit her to say goodbye?

Wed Dec 30, 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

I agree with Ponita.. If she can have visitors.. it's never too late to be a friend.

Wed Dec 30, 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger Kass said...

The book of grief
is not finished
as you behold
the gone years
by the inaccurate glow
of reverse time.

Wed Dec 30, 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Kass said...

...except in this case it may be all too accurate.

Wed Dec 30, 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Selma said...

I am so sorry to hear this. When we are forced to no longer see people we truly love as a result of divorce or something similar, it is heart-breaking. I feel really badly for you xxxx

Thu Dec 31, 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thank you, all, for taking the time to share a few words of wisdom and consolation.

I've been remiss in offering holiday greetings but, the year is young. I hope to make amends.

Mon Jan 04, 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger joanne said...

this post is so close to me it is a bit hard to breathe much less find words... so instead i'll do without the words and sit with you and hold your hand inside the sadness with all i can offer of shared understanding...

Mon Jan 04, 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Smiler said...

I'm very sorry Jonas.That is very sad news indeed. I've spent the better part of the holidays grieving too. For entirely different reasons of course, but I do feel your pain.

Tue Jan 05, 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Christella said...

So sorry for your loss. It is very difficult when we lose someone.

The picture at the top of the post is awesome.

Wed Jan 06, 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Woman in a Window said...

We can carry love for these people but sometimes what surrounds it is too painful to live in that love. Perhaps that's it. It doesn't affect the love itself, just the living of it.

She has lived a good long while. I hope she doesn't suffer.

much love, Jonas

Sat Jan 09, 08:22:00 AM  

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