It is a gift to grow. It is a gift, when one’s heart grows to depths undiscovered. It is a gift to be non-judgmental and mostly, it is a gift to know that no one can walk in another’s shoes.
It is a gift when someone who has walked a similar path can and will support you – yet, there is no such thing as walking in another’s shoes. You are you and I am I. Our shoes may fit, but what drives our steps is the difference in our Spirits – we are programmed with our own, unique paths.
I know both sides. I was widowed. Later, I watched my son die. I know how it is – being a wife, losing a husband, losing a mother’s son. Now, I know how it is to lose my own son.
Michael’s wife has been more than gracious to me, as her mother-in-law. She is gifted with understanding and good judgement and the desire to maintain the support of her late husband’s family. We stay in touch.
I began a new tradition to phone my sons every Sunday, no matter how busy they are in their own lives, I do not want them to be too busy for me. I used to make excuses for our lack of regular communication. Now, I do not. I will phone each of them, every Sunday, whether they answer or not, I will be planting a seed for them to know that I care, that I miss them, that I would enjoy talking about the trivialities of their daily lives.
My daughter-in-law, Mickey’s wife, has been constant with answering my calls. We have grown closer.
I told her, at some time, I do not recall if it was after Mikey died, or during that nightmare visit while watching him die, during one of our heart-to heart conversations that I told her that she is young, she will fall in love again – her life will go on.
I remembered my life, as a young widow at 33 yrs. I started dating our lawyer shortly after Gerrit’s death. It did not start out as dates. He made appointments with me to deal with the business that Gerrit and I owned. Next thing you know, three months down the road, those business meetings turned into dinners, and then dates.
By six months later, he proposed to me. I cringed. I enjoyed his company, his adventurous nature, maybe I even loved him, but my heart had built a wall and I was afraid.
Within two years after my husband’s death, I was re-married to someone else. That marriage ended quickly and I remained single for years later.
I carried my late-husband in my heart though. He truly was my soul-mate.
These things, the things I just divulged to you, are things of which my daughter-in-law was not aware.
Last week, she sheepishly questioned, “… how long after Gerrit died did you start seeing anyone…”
I jumped the gun and told her that I was happy that she is finding happiness. My heart was actually filled with gladness for her. I told her that we are not living in the 1800’s. Women do not have to wear black for years and mourn for someone who can never come back.
I felt strange, having those words come out of my mouth. After all, it was my son that died – my irreplaceable son. Yet, I knew what it was like to be a young widow.
For my daughter-in-law to remain in mourning would serve no purpose – it would not bring my son back. It would not bring her husband back.
I know that there is a place in my heart where my late husband lives. I visit that place from time to time and can feel him, even though I am re-married. There is a special place in time and space that we share and always will.
I believe that is true with my daughter-in-law and my late son – her late husband. I know this because I have been there.
My daughter-in-law, the mother of my late son’s children will be a part of my life, for however long I live. I love her. I do. And, I am glad for her to begin moving on. I know that she will love again. It will not be the ‘same’ love that she shared with my son, but it will be ‘love.’
Meanwhile, I feel like a protective mother-figure toward her (her mother died from breast cancer when my daughter-in-law was finishing college.) I will support her because I know her heart.
Yet, Michael will still be in her heart. I know this, because I’ve been there. But, in my heart, there will always be a wound. No one can replace a child who died.
With that, I close this post with the song from Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now and offer the lyrics below that seem to fit right now:
Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
and feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way.
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
from up and down, and still somehow
it’s cloud illusions I recall.
I really don’t know clouds at all.
Moons and Junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way that you feel
as every fairy tale comes real; I’ve looked at love that way.
But now it’s just another show. You leave ’em laughing when you go
and if you care, don’t let them know, don’t give yourself away.
I’ve looked at love from both sides now,
from give and take, and still somehow
it’s love’s illusions that I recall.
I really don’t know love at all.
Tears and fears and feeling proud, to say “I love you” right out loud,
dreams and schemes and circus crowds, I’ve looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads, they say
Something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day.
I’ve looked at life from both sides now,
from win and lose, and still somehow
it’s life’s illusions I recall.
I really don’t know life at all.