My MIL was in a good mood today. Anyone that knows her, knows that she can get on a tangent fussing about someone. Usually it’s a female relative.
Since she has become increasingly forgetful, she doesn’t recall recent opportunities to gossip and fuss. This has made her a gentler soul.
Today, though, my 21-year-old son was hanging around the house and a witness to our morning routine. We watched our “story”. The Bold and the Beautiful is a favorite. We were so glad Brook went back with Ridge. My son said Ridge was old, but my MIL and I agreed he is pretty hot for “an old guy”.
She and I talked about a few people we know. A bit of gossiping. A few “Can you believe that” comments. Then she asked if my older sons had girlfriends.
My son walked past and said, “Is that all y’all do all day is gossip about people?”
She smiled really big and told him, “Oh, that’s the good life!” Then she added laughing, “When you get a new girlfriend bring her by so we can talk about her, too!” He just laughed.
I know that gossip is wrong and a sin, but I swear, it was good to see her smile and laugh. I can’t imagine losing the love of your life that sat beside you for over 60 years. To be moved to someone else’s home and not be able to remember where you lived before must be so hard. Then every day waking up knowing your world is totally different but not knowing how so. I just can’t imagine. Therefore, when I see her find joy in living, I am so impressed.
Over the last three weeks I have watched her. There have been a few times when I had the courage to let myself imagine myself in her shoes. From my limited experience of just 48 years compared to her 85, I would think back to difficult romantic breakups. I remember crying for weeks once. I remember the pain in my chest that felt like I was being crushed. When my youngest nearly died as an infant, the fear was absolutely paralyzingly. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think or feel.
As I imagine what it must be like for her, I pull all these memories together and super-impose my husband in the place of the vacuum left by the loss.
The pain is too great. The sorrow engulfs me and I am certain I could only manage to hide in my bed and cry inconsolably for, well, as long as I can imagine.
But here is my MIL, by the blessing of dementia or by pure molten courage, putting aside grief for just a minute to allow her heart to rest. She laughs. She is alive. Despite being without her life’s love, despite battling betrayal by her mind, she finds joy in the small things like gossip. She is still a participating member of the community of humanity. I am watching her and learning. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by courageous women in my life. She may not always have been this strong, but I’m glad to share life with her when she is facing the greatest test of her life.