I started my morning in a long hot bath, softening muscles that are tight from a few hours car ride, one i will gladly make as many times as we can to share space with my husbands mom in the time we have. My husband is one of four brothers and a baby sister, each having partners and children and many of those children now raising families of their own. My Mother in law has two remaining sisters, being one in a family of five girls – the tributaries of this river flow far and wide.
I am thinking with gratitude how lucky it is we are within driving distance. As life happens, our family is spread about with miles and commitments between so it isn’t possible for everyone to have this hands on time that we all know is precious. What I want to share about that, for those of you who are far away is it matters most to you, but if I can, I want to ask you to shift your worry and sadness into some of the times you spent together over the years. These are the times we often talk about on the visits. The little girls in white dresses who grew up five sisters in mill towns in northern b.c. The ones who brought together their large families in the early days when there were enough little boys to make a baseball team with spares!
My youngest sister in law came along late, not to be included in a lot of the memories of the early days. When sharing memories of their dad at the celebration of his life, often it was around the four boys. I hoped she didn’t feel left out of the family because she was and remains all of their softest place, a late addition, the only little girl albeit a tom boy despite the painted toe nails! She and her closest sibling live in town and much of the heavy weight sits with them as the available family.
Most of the grand children have been able to spend time with their Grandma these past few weeks, all i believe within the past six months. Here is the important thing I have learned. Distance in this moment doesn’t change how closely she holds you in her heart which is very full. Pictures on the table and the fridge and frames around the house show your faces. Her sense of connection to each of you is tangible and it seems like time between is not the factor that determines strength of nearness. She carries you each so tightly I feel you in the room.
My husbands sweet mom is the last parent we have between us. The thought of that loss makes me feel like a small boat without an anchor in a big sea. She was thinking yesterday about the many documents and pictures she has been assembling and how it wouldn’t take much to compile them and I am sure one of the grandchildren may one day. She wants you all to know where you came from. I secretly know. despite hardships and wounds that sometimes feel close to the surface, you come from strong stock. You come from close ties and long memories. You come from a long line of love, you are family.
We live in a world that struggles with endings. We know no matter how many, there are never enough visits. There are never enough birthdays! Having lost three of four parents between us, I have learned two things with certainty. Love lingers, and, there are no real good byes. I hope we have more chats, more visits, more more more of everything but when it is too hard to be here and passage comes, you need to know she has someone always, and if it isn’t you physically there in the moment, you are remembered. you are loved.