I'm participating in the Blogging from A-Z Challenge again this year. Today's post is brought to you by the letter J.
I wasn't sure what I wanted to write about for the letter "J". My husband, Justin, was the obvious choice, but I have written so much about him over the last few years, I wasn't sure what else I could write. Not to mention, there's this whole group of people who are convinced that if you say or post anything lovey-dovey and nice about your significant other, it means you're compensating for a shitty relationship. For some reason the idea of anyone thinking that about my marriage bothers me, though I know other people's opinions don't really matter. Still, I let that get to me. I also considered my mother in law, Judy, as a topic. Losing her has been tougher than I ever imagined, but again, I've written quite a bit about her and she comes up in conversation almost daily, so I didn't figure there was much more I could say.
I took to ye olde facebook to get some input from my friends and family. There were several interesting suggestions that I kicked around, and not surprisingly, Justin and Judy both came up. That's when I decided why not write about the two of them?
The dynamics between Justin and Judy have always intrigued and awed me. I can't lie and say there weren't moments when I felt like my opinion or needs came second to hers, but looking back, I don't even recall the exact reasons why I felt that way, which means it was most likely just me being hyper sensitive and overreacting. (Crazy to think I'd do that, right?!) They talked almost every single day, either in person or over the phone, and Justin relied on her guidance for nearly every big decision he made. Until him and I met, I had never seen anyone love and value their parent the way he did his. Some women might consider this a red flag, as if he couldn't make a decision without his Mommy, but it wasn't like that at all. Judy felt most fulfilled when she was needed by her family, so not only was she there as a support system for her son, his keeping her involved in many aspects of his life made her feel like she had a purpose. This wasn't a conscious effort on either of their parts; it was simply the way their relationship developed.
When a grown man is close with his Mom, he's pegged as a Mama's Boy. There is a lot of negative connotation around that title, and there very well may be reason for it. However, in my experience, I am grateful for a husband who is a Mama's Boy. When she had an aneurysm and was on life support, it was his close bond with her that gave him the strength to make the decision he knew she would prefer, especially since his sister walked out and refused to be a part of the process. When the team of doctors and professionals sat him down to talk to him about tissue and organ donations, he knew exactly how to approach it because he knew his Mom well enough to know that if she had chosen to be a donor, she would want him to respect those wishes.
I have experienced some frustrating moments since Judy's passing, particularly when it comes to Justin's need to hang on to things that I feel are useless or meaningless. When I get to that point, though, I have to catch myself and remember exactly what her life meant to him and realize that because I have never had that kind of bond with my parents, I can't possibly understand what he is going through. Lately he has been working hard on clearing out the clutter in our house, most of which was his Mom's. He has chosen to donate or toss a great many things that he had previously been too emotional to deal with. The fact is, whether I understand it or not, this is his grieving and growing process. It is not for me to say if it's "right" or "wrong" because there is no such thing. Every person deals with loss in their own way. What I do know is that losing someone who was such an integral part of your life throws you into a tailspin and it isn't as easy to recover as people think.
In life and in death, Justin's love and dedication to Judy is awe-inspiring. When she was going through her divorce and felt lonely and defeated, he stopped into her work every morning to sit with her and chat. He would also call her every evening when he got off work, if she didn't call him first. When Judy was depressed with the events surrounding Justin's sister's divorce and not being allowed to see her 2 oldest grandchildren very much, Justin encouraged us to spend more time with her, which eventually brought our little family even closer to Judy during the last year she was alive. When she was on life support and the first thing Justin's sister said to him at the hospital was about going into Judy's house to take money, he set the wheels in motion to secure the house so that it wouldn't be ransacked. The intention was never for him to hold on to everything, but just to make sure his Mom received the respect of being put to rest before anyone talked about the distribution of her possessions. Granted, his ex-brother-in-law still broke into the house and took things, and his Dad took a lot of stuff, too, but he tried to protect his Mom's home so that it could be gone through at an appropriate time. Even though it put him in the tough position of pissing off and even losing contact with family members, his Mom's memory was his only concern and he took all the abuse he received from angry family for it. Even though I stepped in and helped plan Judy's memorial, I kept Justin's input foremost in my mind b/c he was the only person who seemed to truly have her best interests at heart. Even after all the bullshit and struggle we've faced over the last 2+ years, the one constant through it all is Justin's loyalty to his Mom. In spite of her absence, he works to keep her memory alive for our kids' sake, especially Presley who never got the chance to meet her silly, crazy Grandma Judy. Justin honors his Mom in big and little ways all the time and the strength of his love for her never ceases to amaze me. If I had a son, I would be lucky to have him love me so much.