In marriage there are many “firsts”.
A first kiss, a first fight, a first child. And, unfortunately, a first major tragedy.
On December 16th, our phone rang at 1:00 a.m. with the terrible news that my mother-in-love had passed away from a massive heart attack. She was one week shy of her 62nd birthday. She had no major health complications. It came as a major shock.
|The best Grandmother in the world! (1950-2012)|
It is so hard to even imagine life without Grandmother. I’ve only been in the family 14 years come January, and I am going to miss her terribly. I can’t imagine the pain my husband and sister-in-law will face. It will be a first to experience anything of this magnitude with my husband and my children. Grandmother was the apple of their eye.
This experience gives me new insight into older folks or elders. They are wise. But not just in knowledge, also in life experiences, much like this one we are going through. They know that no one can take the place of a mother. They know our lives are forever changed. They know the pain in the coming days ahead. And they hurt for us because they know we will never be the same.
I’m reminded again that death is unpredictable and inevitable. We assume tomorrow will come. We are never prepared for death. We are never ready to say goodbye.
I’m also reminded to be more thoughtful when people lose a loved one. It is hard to know what to say or do, but do something. Those small acts of kindness are never forgotten. Never assume people are too busy to see you or take a call from you. It matters.
Another first for me was living out this tragedy on social media. Not just for me, but my sister-in-law, husband, and most of all my daughter were connected to a larger group of people all feeling our pain with us. Long standing friends and coworkers of my mother-in-law “friended” us on facebook to express their sadness and to “meet” the people they had always heard her speak so fondly about. All of a sudden, brought together by tragedy, we were connected.
Consoling brokenhearted children proved to be our hardest “first”. Children feel the sadness but are not sure how to articulate it. Therefore it comes spewing out in the strangest places, usually at a sibling or parent. As if our hearts were not already broken, this heaviness was almost too much to bare.
And, to add insult to injury, we have already survived her first birthday and Christmas without her. Needless to say, it wasn't the same. But we made time to enjoy each other and savor the family connection.
Firsts. Sometimes they are a new adventure, but sometimes they are just hard.
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4