The missing husband

We hosted CG's family for Thanksgiving, the first major family holiday without my father-in-law. We were predictably sad about his absence, though happy to be together. With our house full to the seams, Z slept in our room on the floor leaving CG and I little time to speak privately and we mostly bustled about separately, tending to children, meals and family.

After the long weekend, CG left for a four-day work trip and my mother-in-law stayed with me and the girls to help out. Our lives were quiet and normal. Morning preschool for Z, grocery shopping and cooking for me and E. At night I would retire to my big empty bed, listening to every creak and groan of the house, missing the safety and weight of a slumbering husband within arms reach. I couldn't help imagining my mother-in-law doing the same, every single night.

My mother-in-law and I cooked food to share, picked up after ourselves and each other, asked one another if we'd like a cup of tea "since I'm getting one for myself", the kinds of things you ask one another when you're part of a home, a couple of people living together. I was conscious of how I could rest assured that my husband was coming home to do those same things for me once my mother-in-law was gone.

Despite her company, I found myself missing my husband a lot, wishing I could consult with him about the girls, the house, the minutiae of life you share with a partner. I talked to my mother-in-law about her minor surgery that is scheduled for next week, and wondered about how to manage such a thing when one no longer has a partner to rely on to drive you, be in charge of food and household matters, talk to the doctors and make sure you get to appointments on time.

On Friday, I drove my mother-in-law to the airport and said goodbye with a teary hug. I imagined her navigating the plane by herself, arriving home to a dark, empty house. A cold, empty bed. Without anyone on the other side.

That afternoon, CG arrived home, lay down on the bed next to me, filling his spot. Added weight and substance where I need it. We talked a little, looked at each other, listened, supported, asked, cared.

And, for a moment, I didn't take him for granted. I was so thankful my missing husband had come home to me and wished with renewed vigor that the same could be true for my mother-in-law.


Marie Green said...

This is just the saddest thing ever. One of my biggest fears was ending up living life alone, and I'm so grateful that I'm not doing that now. Or ever, I hope.

Hillary said...

Oh I can't imagine that feeling. You forget how to be alone, really alone, when you're married ... and honestly, I'm not sure we're meant to be like that.

GratefulTwinMom said...

What a great daughter-in-law. Just being with you and the girls probably really boosted her spirits. I am always struck by a sense of gratitude when I really look and reflect on the wonderful life I get to have because I met my husband. I'm sure your mother-in-law remembers too. I feel your pain at the loss of him, but hopefully, in time, she'll remember all the good times fondly.

B said...

It's my worst fear. I just can't imagine what she is going through :(

Sarah said...

I agree with Hillary. I just don't think people are meant to end their time on earth alone like that. That kills me. I'm glad she got to hang out with you guys, and vice versa.

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