07 November 2011

When Your World Stops Spinning

On 22 Oct 2011, after a month-long hospitalization, ABM's mother (who I referred to here as "the MIL") died from complications after her double-knee surgery. Even though we weren't the best of friends like my BFF Rabbit and her mother-in-law, we seemed to figure out our relationship in recent years and there was a lot less arguing and sniping. I came to realize that she was probably lonely with no spouse or children at home and stopped resenting her frequent presence. I like to think that she finally came to view me as an adult capable of running a household and raising decent children.

I knew that one day I would have to deal with my children losing their grandmother and I thought it would be the toughest parenting duty I would ever have to perform. It never occurred to me that the kids would be easier to handle than ABM. The kids are sad; they cried at the hospital and again at the funeral, but for the most part they seem to be leaning on their faith in God and the belief that Grandmere is in heaven and no longer suffering from the pain she was in for the last month. ABM is having a real tough time of it. Of course I know it is natural to grieve the loss of one's parent, but I've never seen someone be so stricken before. I feel like such an unfit wife; ABM has always been this strong guy who doesn't need anybody and now that he needs help I don't know what to do for him.

What makes things worse is that even though our world has stopped spinning, it is business as usual everywhere else. Right before the funeral I was reading a novel in my favorite genre -- what my kids call "large print prairie romance" -- and there was a death in the book which necessitated the women to turn down social engagements and wear black for a year. I found myself longing for a return to that custom. In today's society, most schools and employers give you three days of bereavement leave and then expect you to return to work. There is no way that ABM could do that. So many sights and sounds during the day set him off.

There are other practical matters that, while it feels callous to me, have to be addressed sooner than later. Besides the business of figuring out her personal affairs and getting those wrapped up, the MIL was our main backup -- our third parent. Case in point: on Friday, C1 stayed after school for some tutoring. ABM forgot she was doing this so he didn't keep his mobile with him and I had forgotten to charge mine. In a situation like this, C1 would normally have called Grandmere and that would have been the end of it. Luckily, ABM finally got the message before the school was locked up and ran to get C1, but this incident was a wake-up call letting us know that we can't put off building a new network of backup people.

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