It's been nearly 10 weeks since Sharon's passing. In some ways, the pain from her death is easier to bear, because it is such a familiar part of me now. There is a permanent hole in my heart that I've learned to live with over these past weeks. And I know that no matter how much time passes, this hole will never completely heal. It is an ever-present part of me, just like the hole in my heart from the death of my uncle. Certain wounds never heal completely; they shrink down to a smaller, more manageable size, but they are never truly gone. Although we've faced a terrible tragedy this year, I know that the future holds hope and blessings for us. While I look forward to the joy that awaits us in our future, I know that nothing will ever be able to repair the wound in our hearts, but some things will make it easier to bear, and some things will add joy and love to our lives.
All of which, we desperately need.
I wanted to dedicate this post to my relationship with Sharon. Not many people can understand that the pain that I suffer is real, and soul-deep. Not many people may understand that the relationship I had with Sharon was more than that between a mother and daughter-in-law. My pain is true, and tangible, and fills me with terrible heartache. It is not the same pain that Dutch, Wes, nor Lori suffer, and I know that it is not as potent because the love and memories they share are stronger than what Sharon and I had. They lost a wife, and a mother. Their pain is unimaginable. While my heart aches, I understand that I do not suffer as they suffer. But I do suffer just the same, and more than typical over the loss of an in-law. By title, Sharon was my mother-in-law. But over the years she has become so much more to me. Over the years she became my friend, my inspiration, my teacher, and my second mother. I loved her as I loved any member of my family. She was my family, not just my husband's family.
I still remember the first time that I met her. I was nervous because since Wes was my first boyfriend, I would be meeting someone's parents for the very first time, and I really wanted them to like me. Sharon was at her mother's house, and we decided to stop by so that we could meet. She walked out onto the porch, and I remember climbing up the porch steps, nervous as can be. She smiled at me, and was so kind and welcoming. I told her that I was a hugger and hoped that she didn't mind; and I hugged her for the very first time. I was later told by Dutch that Sharon had shared that memory with him, and told him that she had loved that about me from the very start.
It was about six months later, around Thanksgiving, where I felt a turning point in our relationship. I had seen them multiple times since Wes and I started dating, and while Sharon was always nice and friendly, I wasn't sure what she thought of me, or if she even liked me for her son. So when Dutch and Sharon were camping in the desert for Thanksgiving, we drove down to spend the day with them. I don't remember too many details, but I do remember that we had a great day. We ate delicious food and played games together. Again, I don't remember the specific details, but for whatever reason, I felt as if that time we spent together was the start of a wonderful relationship together as a family. For whatever reason, by the way they both spoke to me, and smiled at me, and hugged me, I knew that they liked me. Dutch was obvious in his affection for me because he would playfully pull on my ponytail; Sharon, however, was more subtle. But something about that weekend reached out to me, and I just knew, that they liked me and I liked them. From then on, we've been a family. Over the years our relationships grew, and love developed and grew. Before I knew it, Dutch and Sharon had become my second parents. Again, more than just my in-laws, they were my family, not just my husband's family.
As the years passed, Sharon and I found reasons to spend quality time together. Dutch and Wes would be off doing "guy stuff" and Sharon and I would spend "girl time" together. One occasion I remember was a girls night we had at their house. We both brought dishes and had a yummy meal, then sat down with some dessert to watch "The Phantom of the Opera". The movie started out well, and then frustration ensued because the DVD kept freezing at the same spot, and although we tried different remedies, we couldn't get it to work. We both kept complaining because we had been having such a wonderful night, and just wanted to watch the end of the movie! After a while, we called it quits and said goodnight. She called me the next day to tell me that she found the movie online (discounted of course) and purchased it because she just had to see the ending! We laughed about our partially failed girls night, but both looked forward to the next one. Unfortunately, that was the last girls night that we shared. I will forever remember that night, and will forever remember Sharon when I watch that movie.
It's difficult to know that I will never have that opportunity again. We will never have another girls night together, ever. I will never again get to sit on a stool at her kitchen island and talk with her while she cooks. I think that is one of the things I will miss the most. It seemed like nearly every time I was at her house, she was cooking something or cleaning up her kitchen. And while Dutch and Wes would be in the living room or music room, I always sat at the kitchen island while we shared girl talk. It was never materialistic conversation; it was always personal, and meaningful. Sharon would always ask about my family, and genuinely wanted to know how they were doing. I found her so easy to talk to, and felt as if I could share anything with her. She even shared things with me. I never felt judged, or condemned. I looked forward to our conversations, and her opinions and advice. She was someone that I had grown to greatly admire and trust. It hurts to know that I will never have another opportunity to share a conversation with her again. I miss her voice, and her unique accent. I miss the sound of her laugh, and seeing her smile.
This pain is difficult to bear. There were so many things that I looked forward to in our lives together. So much that I had planned, and wanted to share together. Now all those opportunities and plans are gone. Since her passing, I've had to face some of those opportunities as I'd always imagined, but they were bittersweet because she wasn't there. I had always wanted to help provide food for a branding, and when my opportunity finally arose, there was no Sharon. I had always wanted to take over her job responsibilities for the ranch in order to allow her to retire, and that opportunity finally arose, but there was no Sharon.
Over the years, Dutch and Sharon, and Wes and I had become a small family all our own. We spent a lot of time together, and shared a lot of memories. For the longest time, it was always the four of us. Now ... it's just three of us. That is so unbearable to write. For me, that has been one of the hardest adjustments. We spent a lot of time together, the four of us, as a family. Now, while we find tremendous comfort in one another's presence, that fourth absence is very prominent. For me, as the girl, I find it difficult because while Dutch and Wes can still go about doing their "guy stuff", there is no Sharon to do "girl stuff" with me. That has left a very poignant emptiness in me. Now, when I take a picture of the boys, who do I get to take a picture with? Now, while they are in the living room watching tv, who do I get to talk to in the kitchen? I feel her absence so clearly, and so deeply at times that it is very overwhelming. Losing her has been one of the worst tragedies in my life. Losing a loved one is among the hardest obstacles to overcome.
This is the hardest post that I've written so far, because it is so very personal, and I can't seem to stop crying.
Sharon is the second person that I've lost in this life who I loved very much. She was also the second person that I've lost in this life who loved me for reasons that I didn't understand. I know that she loved me, and as more than just her daughter-in-law, but I don't necessarily understand what she saw in me, or why she loved me as she did. But I'm so unbelieveably blessed and lucky to have had her love. Losing someone that you shared such a strong relationship with, and a great love, is very difficult.
My heart literally aches.
I miss my second mother. I miss everything about her. On a daily basis, I try so hard to distance myself from the emotion, to look at our lives strictly from a non-emotional point. I try to look at it from the factual point that this is what our lives are like now, and try not to remember what it was like before, and how different it would be if she were still with us. I try to leave out the emotion, but I often fail. I can go about day-to-day business with a focused, one-track mind thinking only of what needs to be done, but there are many times when I'm overwhelmed by the emotion, and the devastation of loss. It's gotten easier over the past few weeks; I can go longer periods of timing without allowing the emotion to overwhelm me, but occasionally I lose that battle.
Luckily for me, I have God on my side. This has not been an easy ordeal. I desperately miss Sharon. But I find comfort in my amazing family, my God, and in knowing that I will someday see my second mother again. And we will have eternity to spend together.
He remembered us when we were in trouble. His love continues forever. (Psalm 136:23)
God's peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
Those people who know they have great spiritual needs are happy, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. (Matthew 5:3)