I’ve spent the last two weekends on wonderful adventures with wonderful people. Two weekends ago I was in Quebec for a snowboarding trip and this past weekend I was up north. Both times I was with a combination of people from both of my families and friends. I feel overwhelmingly grateful for all of these people in my life. I’m grateful that they continue to be a part of my life and evolve with me. I’m grateful that people from both of my families and my friends all get along and hang out together. I’m just grateful.
I’ve heard of other widows who have strained relationships with their in-laws after their husband dies. I am fortunate that my experience has been quite the opposite. If anything, it has made my relationship with them stronger. The way I see it is that I have two families now that are both equally mine. They were of course my family before but they were Mike’s family first whereas now they are just mine. They are amazing people and I don’t think my words can do them justice. I’ve wanted to write about them but the words never seem to be there. They probably still aren’t there but I still need to try to acknowledge them.
The way they have stepped up to support me even when they are in their own pain is amazing. I am in awe of their character and strength. As an example, a few months after Mike died I went away on vacation for a week. Mike and I had home renovation projects on the go, one being replacing baseboards, before he died. Obviously, he didn’t have time to finish them. While I’m gone on vacation my father and brother-in-law go to my house in the evenings after they’ve already both worked full days and complete the baseboards. They don’t say anything or ask for anything. They just do it and I come home wondering how it got done. As a second example, this past Christmas we had a huge snowstorm Christmas Eve. I was having a difficult time because, well, Christmas, and I was annoyed that the neighbours that I share my driveway with literally shoveled a line down the middle of our driveways with only their side done. I was extra annoyed by the fact that I have shoveled their driveway so many times and they’re a multi-adult household but couldn’t even reciprocate once on Christmas. Anyways, I drive over the snow and don’t shovel because again, well, Christmas, and later tell my family about my neighbours. I assume you can guess where this is going - very shortly after my father and brother-in-law show up at my house and shovel my driveway.
A last example (because I can’t forget my other brother-in-law who lives a bit further away but still makes such a great effort), this past summer I was doing a portaging canoe trip with some friends. The weekend before my brother-in-law starts asking me about the safety equipment I have and how I will contact him (or anyone) in the case of an emergency. I’m pretty relaxed about the whole thing and not too concerned so I just sort of brush it off. Maybe 10 minutes later he comes back with a solar panel pulled up on his phone on some store website telling me about how it charges communication devices and how if I wasn’t planning on buying it he would buy it and lend it to me. It made me laugh but the amount of care they all show me is so incredible. These are just a few examples of countless others. They are all always wanting and willing to help me in whatever way they can; even when I try to be independent.
The bigger part of the support goes beyond those tasks though. The way my family has supported me emotionally, continued to include me in everything, encouraged my life evolving and stood behind my choices really amazes me. They show me so much care and respect. I know it must not be easy for them to do - to see me continuing to have a life without their son and brother. Much of the early days after Mike’s death are a blur but I remember maybe a week after Mike died my mother-in-law pulled me aside at the cottage and made it clear to me that they all wanted me to continue living my life and they all wanted me to be happy again. They wanted to be a part of it and continue to have Mike’s brothers and partners as my brothers and sisters. We were both crumbled in tears but those words meant so much to me. They had no grandchildren from us, it’s literally just me yet they still wanted me in their lives. On multiple occasions now they’ve encouraged me to keep doing what makes me happy and that they want to be included in it; whatever that “it” turns out to be. There never seems to be any judgement.
I always knew Mike had such a pure and giving heart and I see so clearly now where it developed from. He was so fortunate to have such an amazing family looking out for him; his parents and two big brothers (and their partners are amazing, strong women too). I feel bad that he misses out on them now. I feel bad that I get to be with them and he doesn’t. I know I’m so lucky to have married into such a wonderful family. I’m fortunate to now call them mine. They have had such an enormous loss and yet they still also have the biggest hearts. It’s not fair that hearts that big can break. Yet, they still do, and this family has risen to the challenge of continuing to love, live, and evolve through the broken pieces. I am so thankful for them. I am honoured to continue to share their last name.