Image hosted by

Friday, May 06, 2005

My Immortal

It's never too late even though life is over in the blink of an eye.

Today I want to tell you guys about my relationship with my mother in-law. She lived in Oregon, while her son and I both were in Illinois. He lived with his sister at the time, two blocks away from where I lived with my parents. We met at work.

When he asked me out I simply told him, "I don't date people I work or go to school with, but thanks."

He quit his job the next day and came rushing over to ask again. As a teenager, I was flattered that a young man, a teenage boy, could like me enough to leave his job. I said yes.

A few months down the road I got my own apartment and he soon moved in with me. His mother, Amanda, didn't like the idea. She'd never met me at that point but had already decided, I wasn't good enough for her little boy.

The test of time was not held in my favor as the years rolled on, she still didn't like me, not even after we finally met.

Because I couldn't understand, I asked my husband why. All he told me was she thought I wasn't good enough, wasn't pretty enough, wasn't skinny enough, wasn't smart enough and would never make enough money to be good enough for her son.

I wanted so badly to get her blessing. It just wasn't meant to be. I always wondered if she knew how much I really loved her son with all of my heart.

She didn't make it to our wedding. She never called to congratulate us on the birth of either child. She never sent a birthday card or called for any of us. She was distant and cold. It hurt.

She talked to her son through his sisters. I guess because she thought calling our house, a place I might answer, was just out of the question.

I tried to understand but couldn't. Some 14 years down the line, Mr. Lane went to visit her, without me and the kids. She didn't ask us not to come but she made no effort to make us feel welcome, so we stayed behind.

While he was visiting, Amanda introduced him to the "nice lady" across the street. She hoped they would build a relationship and her son would live near her again. She never seemed to take into consideration or maybe forgot that her son had a wife and children at home.

I guess he forgot too. He moved out of our house and they began dating.

He wanted so badly to please his mother that he left all we had as a family. That hurt too. A lot.

Human nature messes us up more than we realize as it unfolds. While I was on the verge of begging for Amanda's approval, year after year, my husband was telling his mother every bad thing I ever did, every mean thing I ever said, every negative thing about me, every tiny icky detail. And she, was growing hatred.

He never once took the time to tell her why he loved me, what our relationship was like when things were going well and she never took the time to get to know me for herself.

As a mother with a little boy of my own, I understand why she hated me all of those years. She only knew the worst things about me.

As people, we get wrapped up in complaining. We forget to share the good things. We focus on the negative. We are human. We make mistakes. My husband realized his mistake. Thankfully, it wasn't too late.

He called me one night while I was on vacation and he was with his girlfriend. He told me that I had been his best friend longer than anyone, said he missed me, missed talking to me everyday, he said he missed us, and wanted to come home because he said he made the mistake of a lifetime.

I cried.

Weeks went by and we tried to renew trust and friendship. He moved in with his sister 50 miles away from me and the kids. We eventually started dating again. I realized how much I missed him being part of our family. He realized how much he missed that too.

My heart still held so much hate for that woman. How could she do that to me, to us? She was supposed to see me as a daughter, the way my mother saw Mr. Lane as her own son. Why wasn't I part of her family?

It still hurt.

Mr. Lane moved back home but I still couldn't emotionally shake what happened. My hate grew. The thought of the other woman, who knew Mr. Lane was married, the mother in-law, who was supposed to be like a second mom to me filled me with hate.

Hate isn't my strong suit. My heart grew cold and I didn't like the person I was becoming. I needed answers. I wanted to know why this woman hated me. I wanted to know how she could break up our family. I still loved Mr. Lane so much that all of the anger was directed at his mom and not him. It was then that Mr. Lane told me all of the bad things he told her over the years. Sometimes, I was mean, but he admitted every story was "slightly exaggerated" and always "one-sided".

No wonder why she hated me!

A month after Mr. Lane moved back home, we got a phone call. Amanda was diagnosed with brain cancer.

I cried.

Nobody knows how much time they have left on this Earth but knowing her time was nearly up, it was time for me to grow up. Step up.

I drove to Portland to give it one more try. We arrived to a frail, shell of a woman. Still a woman, the same who gave birth to the man I loved. The man she loved. We had a common bond in him.

She didn't know we were coming. Mr. Lane and the kids went into her room and surprised her. She sounded happy as I listened from the other room. I wanted her to get the good news first before seeing me.

An hour after we settled in, I finally got the nerve to go into her room to say hello, to let her know I also made the trip to see her.

I walked up to her door and knocked. Her frail voice told me to come in. Her eyes held no emotion as I walked through the door. I knelt at her bedside, looked her in the eyes and I said, "I want to be here with you, for you and your son, my husband, if you'll let me. If you want me to go away, say the word and I promise to leave. I want to give it one more try with you. I want us to know each other. I want you to know that if you have to leave us, your son is loved as much as one person is capable of loving another."

She took my hand and pulled me in and for the first time in all of those years, she hugged me and said she wanted me to stay.

I cried and told her, "There's no place I'd rather be." And then I thanked her.

Over the next two weeks I got to know her, love her and get her love in return. I helped take care of her as any other member of the family. She trusted me. During the night was when she was most alert. Everyone else was usually sound asleep and it was just the two of us.

She and I would talk for hours. One of her favorite things was how I massaged her back and legs each night because she was sore from lying in bed all of the time. I would rub, she would talk. She shared stories with me about Mr. Lane growing up, her marriages, her family, her fears and her newfound faith. We bonded.

I had the privilege of holding her hand when she took her last breath.

It's hard not to have regrets. Time is so precious and life is too short. I always wonder what would have happened if I would have taken the initiative sooner, let her know exactly how I felt about her son, let her know the real me and most importantly let the hate not eat me away before coming to my senses.

Although she was only my second mother for two weeks, I still love her. Happy Mother's Day Amanda, my immortal.