If I haven’t been commenting much or eloquently lately, my apologies. I haven’t been around much. And while I don’t normally talk much about personal things, I’m going to take this post to do just that.
You might remember my taking off for a weekend wedding in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. That trip was also a journey home to see my father-in-law. Not very long ago, he was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent chemo and radiation and when all was said and done, the doctors said he was cancer free.
That didn’t last long. When he got sick again, he was told that the cancer had spread and he was Stage 4. His timeline was 6-9 months. As it turns out, that was optimistic. About a month ago, my husband went with his mother and father to Mexico, where they had retired ten years ago, to sell their home and set their affairs in order.
My father-in-law got so sick down there my husband had to stay three extra days just to get him well enough to fly home. They took him to the hospital and were told his kidneys were failing. The weekend I went back for the wedding, I took my kids back to say good-bye to their grandfather.
I went from sitting in the oppressive grief of a house waiting for death to a wedding in Holy Name Cathedral, a majestic building, to an elegant restaurant overlooking the lake and sailboats back to sitting in a room listening to my father-in-law laboring to breathe.
We came back late on Sunday. Early on Tuesday, he died, and last weekend we went back for the funeral.
In the 27 years since my in-laws embraced me as part of their family, they’ve treated me as one of their own. They love my children and have been generous, warm, and kind. I couldn’t have asked for better in-laws.
At the reception I met a friend’s brand new, month old baby. I remember the experience as surreal, the juxtaposition of life and death and the full circle of it all. And I thought about writing and how the experience of the last couple of weeks would shape me and my words.
We take what we know and through the alchemy of writing we create stories. Experience shapes us as people and writers. I am not the same in either capacity as I was last week. And while I grieve with my mother-in-law, I miss my father-in-law.
Rest in peace, David.