Tomorrow is my beloved, wonderful husband's 42nd birthday. He continues to be the most amazing and wonderful blessing in my life, and I love him more than I ever imagined I could love another person.
But tonight I'm not thinking about him, I'm thinking about his mom.
I am not particularly close to my mother-in-law, but I still deeply respect her as a person. We're not close mainly because of the language barrier between us- she speaks English fairly well, but doesn't always understand everything, and that has an effect on our conversations and the depth of our relationship. And I'm kind of nervous when I'm around her because of the culture gap between us- when we get together it's typically in situations where I'm the only caucasian person around, and that has an effect on my mood and reactions.
Daniel and I have been blessed to both come from families where our parents are still happily married- in my case my parents have been together since they were teens and married for 38 years, and his parents have been married for 46 (or 47?) years. And out of our 4 parents, we each have one who has had a fairly normal life with one major tragedy, and one parent who has had more thrown at them in life than a person should be expected to bear.
In Daniel's case, it's his mom who has had to fight her whole life through one sad event after another. Even though she doesn't read my blog, I don't feel comfortable detailing them all here. But, in short, she lived through the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, then by her late adolescence had lost both parents and was raised by a housekeeper.
But the reason I think about her tonight is because my mother-in-law also survived what I venture to guess is the most painful thing anyone ever has to live through, the loss of a child. At the end of her second pregnancy, she realized her baby wasn't moving, but the doctors brushed off her concerns. And when the baby was born, he was no longer alive. I can hardly even type that without crying. My mother-in-law then had the courage (and according to family stories, strong encouragement from Daniel's grandmother, who lived with the family at the time) to have another baby a year and a half later.
I remember what it felt like the night before my kids were born, how nervous I was, and that was without having been through what she went through. I cannot begin to understand what it would be like to be in labor with a child a year and a half after her last labor had ended so badly. To my mother-in-law, your second son, and your struggle and sadness is not forgotten.
I know that my mother-in-law blamed herself for a long time, thinking she did something wrong and caused her baby's death. Given my background in developmental toxicology, I think she was seriously wrong about that belief, and that the loss of her child was no fault of hers. (Yes, we have told her that)
So, to my mother-in-law (even though you will never read this), thank you. The child that I know you were scared to have has grown into the most amazing husband. He is exactly the man that I prayed for for so many years. And he's an even more amazing father than he is husband. Thank you for raising him so well to be such a good man.