Sunday, January 31, 2016

In Memory of . . .

                     (My mother in law and my three oldest girls at their dance recital in 2014.)

Before I continue on with this blog, I would like to mention something that has been on my heart.  On Jan 6, my sweet mother in law passed away.  We had just been up to Michigan to visit her for a week and the day after we returned home, my husband received a call that she had had a pulmonary embolism and a heart attack.  We quickly packed up again and headed back up to Michigan.  The following day she passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving husband and children.  Her passing was actually very beautiful and I was amazed by the graces that were showered upon us throughout this time.

               (A beautiful sketch of their wedding picture by a family friend.  She's amazing.)

My mother in law suffered from Multiple Systems Atrophy for over 11 years.  This disease slowly
affected her ability to walk, communicate and even eat solid foods.  It was painful to watch her suffer, but she always tried to find the silver lining.  She would often speak of how lucky she felt that "at least she was not in pain."  This is actually quite incredible considering she couldn't hold her grandchildren whom she adored, tell a simple story or joke that was on her mind or engage in all the physical activities she used to love.  She would also mention how she felt blessed that this did not happen to her while her children were young.  To find joy and greatfulness during so much suffering was so inspiring to me.

            (Terri and my 3rd oldest daughter, Cecilia, in 2012.)

It was also quite touching to see her family care for her all these years.  My father in law would take her anywhere and everywhere despite the difficulties with the wheelchair, getting her in and out of cars and literally having to carry her up flights of stairs.  They rarely missed a birthday party, baptism or dance recital for my girls and when they were forced to, I know it was awful on them.  Over this past year, her health really took a turn for the worse and she needed 24 hour care.  My father in law selflessly cared for her, while working to maintain health insurance and receiving a poor diagnosis about his own health.  I know it wasn't easy on them, but in the end, they showed us such a beautiful example of the value in suffering, sacrificial love, and the meaning of marriage.  The fact that the road was not always smooth, made their journey all the more encouraging to me.  Your family may not always see things the way you do or react how you want them to, but that does not mean you should stop doing what is right.  Throughout our lives, there may be times when we carry the biggest burdens and other times when our spouse carries the heaviest cross.  As I said earlier, their beautiful hearts were able to overcome these obstacles.

We will of course never understand God's plan and why she was ever stricken with disease, but it was so evident that He with was her on this journey.  I know it pained her and my father in law, that they could not always help out others financially, or take their grandchildren on trips or attend every function, but I am not sure that they realize the gifts they were able to give us and our children instead.

They taught us to be compassionate.  When they first started struggling with health issues, I always tried to remind them of the good in their lives.  At the time, I was just trying to help, but looking back, I now know that sometimes it is better to just say, "I am so sorry this is happening to you, but you are being such a great example to us." or something of that nature.  I think that while it is important to be positive, it is also important to validate the pain and suffering people are enduring.
Also, I think my children learned a lot from visiting her at the various hospitals and nursing homes she had to live in temporarily.  They loved bringing smiles to everyone and helping everyone during BINGO.  They were exposed to a lot, but I also watched them grow exponentally with compassion for others and thinking outside themselves.  Lastly, all of the nurses and doctors we encountered ofter mentioned how sweet she was and what great care their Granddaddy took of her.  What a beautiful witness they were able to give to their grandchildren!  I know my older daughters overheard many of these conversations and will never forget those words.

They taught us to be humble.  It is not always easy being the one that is on the receiving end of help, but it is so necessary to accept it with grace.

They taught us to communicate.  Lack of communication can really destroy a marriage if you are not careful and little things can be taken in the complete wrong way and if not addressed can blow up into something dangerous.

They taught us to trust.  Particularly on the last day of her life, we all were filled with anxiety, worry and helplessness.  We banded together in constant prayer- many chaplets of Divine Mercy and her death could almost be described as miraculous.  In retrospect, there was no reason for anxiety and concern.  Of course sadness, but we should have trusted that the Lord would take her in His time.  I have been inspired to really try to hear what the Lord is telling me at all times.  Even with the little stuff.

When she passed away, I really didn't think I would continue with this blog.  It seems so meaningless and petty in comparison with such a great loss, but after contemplating it over this past month, the idea of having a platform to share my feelings seemed therapeutic, even if no one reads it.  I also love the idea of honoring her in this way and telling her story.

I am so thankful that my husband and I have such great role models in our lives to help strengthen our marriage.  My parents have also recently battled health issues and have been there to support each other, make each other laugh and carry the burden when necessary.

Thank you so much for reading.  And I look forward to posting again soon!

~ Rose