Friday, July 27, 2012

The Great Goodbye

Today we buried my mother-in-law, who died Friday, July 20th. She had been diagnosed with lymphoma a couple weeks ago, thought to only have developed within the past three months. Within 10 days of her first round of chemotherapy, she went into septic shock, which in turn led to massive organ failure.

I wish I could have gotten to know her better, to know her as a happy person. I wish she had not died so angry and bitter. By the time Ed and I were married, she had become deeply unhappy - not at Ed or me, not at her sisters, not at her friends, but at people she felt had wronged her. She and my father-in-law had begun their (mostly one-sided) acrimonious divorce proceedings barely six months after Ed and I got married.These problems could have been resolved by leaving herself open to forgiveness, had she really been interested in reparations. She was left an embittered, unhappy woman whose anger, animosity, and fear led to a destruction of at least two long-term friendships and the destruction of trust in her own family. Her anger led to a deep regret felt by at least two members of the family and long-time friends with whom she had broken ties; it is now impossible to even hope to make amends. 

That's a heavy burden.

She would not have wanted Ed's father at the funeral, nor would she have wanted the long-time friends with whom she cut ties in attendance; yet they all came, and Ed's father was especially involved in planning the funeral. (Ed's father and the husband were two of the pallbearers.)

And last night's viewing was lovely; it was well attended. The funeral home folks did a great job in making Judy look like herself, and we were able to place various significant objects with her in the casket. At the funeral, Ed did the first reading. Her closest and oldest friend, Rose, a friend from nursing school, did the second; she also read the Prayer of St. Francis at the viewing, a prayer that had special signifigance from their time together as nurses in training.

We had a catered reception afterwards; many stayed until at least 5 p.m.; actually, Ed and I left before some of the last hangers-on did. There was a lot of talking and reminiscing, sharing of stories and pictures, even a few exchanges of phone numbers, addresses, and e-mail addresses.

However Judy lived her final months, people loved her as she had been, someone who loved Paris and London, loved classical music, a real city girl, and not necessarily the fragile, frightened woman she would become.

And ultimately, Ed and I took a few lessons away from her life, in how we wish to live our lives.


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