I woke up this morning with that dull ache that comes from missing someone. I wasn’t surprised to feel that void – Brock is out of town, I don’t see family much and most of my local friends have a different spring break this year. But the ache wasn’t for any of those people. It was for my ex mother in law.
I got to know my mother in law well over the 16 years I was with her son. She and I even lived together for a couple weeks while the men were away at work. She was a good woman with a giving heart. I always felt a little sorry for her, however. She was always a bit timid. A bit weak. Uncomfortable in her own skin. Almost missing in her own life.
She had a great relationship with her father yet allowed her adult life to be limited by her complicated relationships with her mother and siblings. She was afraid. Of driving. Of crowds. Of new experiences. Of being alone. That last one is probably what kept her in the relationship with her husband, even as his drinking grew out of control and his personality became more abrasive.
She was a caring parent, yet a distant one. She wanted the best for her son, an only child, yet wasn’t always equipped to help him achieve it. She didn’t want to pass her insecurities on to him and she worked hard to avoid that.
My ex had a complicated relationship with his parents as we moved into adulthood. He went long periods without contact, even though they moved to Atlanta along with us and ended up settling two streets over. His tough love approach seemed to work; they stopped drinking at some point. Even then, he didn’t always maintain contact. I’m not sure why, but I always let him be the one to decide how much contact he wanted. After all, they were his parents.
The last time I spoke to his mom was on the phone a couple weeks after he left. He had been arrested for the bigamy and spent a day in jail until his father posted his bail. He was alone that night. He had been caught. His other wife, upon learning the truth, had left him and his computers and car were impounded. He had nothing. He tried to end it all that day, taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Through a very unlikely series of events (serendipity?), my parents and I ended up saving his life.
The next day, I learned from the police that his parents were coming up from Atlanta to pick him up from the hospital. I called them, wanting to reach out and give them any information that I thought might help their son. I wanted them to understand how much help he really needed. I talked to his mom for over an hour. She was in shock. Like with everyone else in our lives, the reality of his double identity stunned her. They just wanted to get their boy home and figure out what to do from there.
We hung up when they arrived at the hospital. She said she would call me back. She never did.
I can’t even fathom the terror and pain of a parent upon discovering that their child is in crisis and a criminal all with one phone call. I worried about her. I still do. At the courthouse, 8 months later, his father was there, stoic and silent, but his mother was noticeably absent. I hope she missing only because she was afraid to face the court, a fear I can easily relate to, but I don’t know.
His parents took him in for a time after the suicide attempt. I don’t know what he told them or what he did, but I’m afraid that they were a victim of his cons as well. I know of one defaulted credit card with a very high balance that had her name on it as well, as it was taken out before he was 18. I hope they were able to protect themselves even as they tried to help him.
This morning, I missed her. I thought about when we sat on her living room floor, looking through his baby pictures. I thought of her trying out Puerto Rican bread pudding recipes, trying to nail down her father’s favorite childhood dish. I remember her coming in to my first “regular” job at a pet store and immediately falling in love with a young Papillon. I placed the dogs in her arms to handle a customer; she always blamed me for her decision to purchase the puppy:) I remembered her stories of her early married life in California and the stories of her parent’s courtship. I remembered when she sewed a liner into the white bikini I had foolishly purchased and when she emergency-hemmed my wedding dress in the back of the restaurant where we had our reception dinner.
I miss her. I just hope she isn’t missing from her own life.