Untitled Because I Have No Words
As I write this, my mother-in-law, Lee’s mom, is in hospice probably completing the last days of her life. I might be alright with calling myself a marriage expert but when it comes to death, I am horribly ill equipped. So what I am writing now is not a lesson on how to grieve. It is me coming to terms with the loss of a woman that helped mold me, who supported me, and who loved me.
Being an in-law comes with a lot of decisions. You cannot choose your family but with your in-laws you can choose whether or not to love and be loved. My mother-in-law chose to love me with a tigress’ loyalty. I was her Flaco and she made sure that everyone knew it. She was the first in the family to accept me, probably because she saw in me an unwavering adoration for her daughter that we both share.
In one moment, she became my family and my friend, ramped up with Cuban coffee and an ADD-like energy. I became her evil minion. I say this with some guilt but some of the things that are killing her now are some of my fondest memories. I remember splitting a bottle of wine, long before Lee and I married. She spoke in Spanish and I spoke in English, neither of us fully understanding the other. We laughed for two hours straight, just her and me. I was the first to be fed. The first to be offered wine. The first to be allowed into her family.
At weddings, it was my job to collect all of the centerpieces and guest gift for her. This task I would accomplish with joy, even if it meant pushing down an old lady or scamming a bride’s maid. I once brought her a four foot tall arrangement that may or may not have been part of the bridal gifts to the guests. A little petty theft was worth it to see her smile. While she had chosen to love and accept me, I made the choice to let her into my heart. What Lee would call trans-generational lunacy, I found hilarious, endearing and joyous. Where every bottle of wine, cup of Cuban coffee, and overly salted French fry that we shared may bring me sadness now, I would not trade the memories for anything.
She taught me a fearless joy of life that I carry with me today. It has defined that man that I am. It is her lessons to me that I want to pass down to my children, her grandchildren that she loved unconditionally and with a passion. I am having problems grieving her much like I cannot grieve the sun after it sets. I still feel her warmth, her fire in my heart. I will forever be her Flaco. It has always been my honor.
Ps. God is going to have His hands full with you.