I knew this day would come, another brief measurement in the short years of our lives. This morning as I was scanning through the Sunday paper, I turned a page and there was the article I knew I’d read someday. My former mother-in-law had died. Because she had worked as a reporter and editor for this very newspaper (among other things), her death warranted a full article, chronicling her life and times. It was impressive. There were quotes from her husband, now a widower, and a brief mention of their children, among them her only son and my first husband.
He and I no longer communicate, by my request a few years ago. This is not because there is enmity between us, but perhaps because our efforts to maintain a friendship (albeit long-distance) became too difficult for me. Seeing him a few times over the years when he came to town to visit his family made me very happy, and almost immediately after each encounter, very sad. Although we both moved on with our lives and eventually remarried after our brief and early marriage, and each attained happiness in these second unions, meeting with him for even the short times we were able to left me with a bittersweet feeling that was sometimes overwhelming, even painful.
So on this occasion, following the loss of his mother, who loved him very much–only son, and all–I want to say something to him in recognition of this difficult milestone, but am uncertain whether I should. And what to say? Except perhaps that he and his family are in my thoughts, that I know what it feels like to lose one’s mother, and when one loves a parent who dies, there is a strange sense of disconnect and loss, as if one has been unmoored from a lifelong safe harbor. I remember thinking over and over after my mother died that there was no number I could call to hear her voice, there was no earthly place where I could go to see her again. And yet for months that was all I could think of doing. I wanted to sit and talk with her.
Maybe that’s all I need to say to him.