Two years ago today was the last time I spoke to my Mother-in-law. It was also the last time I saw her fully alive, without the assistance of ventilators and machines.
The summer Judy passed, she had volunteered to watch Trinity for us for 3 or 4 hours a day while we were both at work. It was only a few weeks since I had found out I was pregnant with Presley. I made my usual after-work trek to Judy's house to pick up Trinity and sit and chat for a bit. I remember this day she was getting ready for a trip to the coast. She told me how nervous she was to be going alone w/ my Father-in-law (they were divorced at this point), and expressed a lot of irritation at my Sister-in-law for her hesitation to house/dog sit for her. She did her normal routine of asking how I was feeling and we talked a little bit about the baby while Trin got out of her swim clothes and got ready to leave. We said our goodbyes and I wished her good luck on the trip, and Trin and I drove away.
I can still see her standing on one side of her kitchen island while I stood on the other. Our interaction was so normal and average, I never would have thought it would be the last.
The next day Judy called and spoke to Justin briefly about finding a sand dollar for Trinity, then a few hours later we got the call that changed our lives forever.
I often think back to the last summer Judy was alive and wonder what I would have done differently, what any of us would have done differently, had we known it was the last summer. The summer had already been very eventful. We found out we were having another baby, we had spent countless evenings hanging out and having bbq's with both Justin's parents. They had been spending a lot of time together and we had many conversations with Judy about her feelings on their post-divorce connection. Judy, Trinity, and I spent a full day together at the fair just a couple weeks before she passed, and I had gotten to spend quite a bit of one-on-one time with Judy that summer b/c I would stop and chat with her while Trinity swam or got out of her swim clothes when I got off work.
I have to wonder, though, what we would have done differently had we known it was the last time we'd speak. If we couldn't change the final outcome, but we knew it was coming. It's hard to believe that just two short years ago, on this very day, life was "normal". Aside from the excitement of a new pregnancy and the possibility of a rekindling romance between Justin's parents, things were no different than the year before or the year before that. And now our lives aren't even recognizable in comparison. Just two short years and everything is upside down and inside out.
I know that people who haven't lost someone really close to them think that there is a time limit on grief. All I can say is until you've lost someone so close that it changes literally every single aspect of your daily life, you have no idea just how much of an impact that can have or how hard it is not to think about that person every day. In our case, we had the added pain of losing someone who would have been such a huge part of our growing baby's life and now she's growing up without the only Grandma she would have known and without the experience of having a Grandparent that would take her on weekend trips to the beach or teach her to fish. Her loss has become our loss as we struggle to fill that void for her. We are mourning for ourselves and for her. She doesn't yet know what it is that she is living without, but someday she'll hear her friends talk about sleepovers at Grandma's house and she won't have any clue what that's like. All she'll have are our stories and memories. If we don't share them, she'll never know. She'll never know about the time her Grandma walked out onto a cliff in Hawaii that was made entirely of lava, even though there were signs warning not to go beyond a certain point. She'll never know about the time her Grandma went out and danced with performers at Universal Studios in front of hundreds of people, or all the times we ate on the back patio together, enjoying Judy's massive hamburgers unless we hold on to those stories and share them. There is no limit to our grief. After all, it's only been two years.