May was pretty good to me with a only a few big bumps along the way. At the beginning of May my sweet Grandpa died at age 91. He had been bedridden for some months after a long decline following a stroke a few years ago. That leaves my cute little grandma as a brand new member of the club I wish I wasn't in. Honestly, I was relieved for my grandpa. He held on for so long. About a month before he passed away I was visiting him at his home. He was not lucid all the time but was in and out of our conversation. He waited for everyone to leave the room and we were alone together for just a couple of minutes. He grabbed my hand and looked me straight in the eyes and in a hushed but intense whisper said, "What is she going to do?" I immediately knew he was hanging on because he was worried about my grandma being alone. They had been married for 67 years and I am sure the thought of being apart was scary for both of them. I assured him that there were a lot of people who love Grandma and we would take care of her. I told him that she would be okay. I was about to tell him it was okay for him to die and be free of his pain but Grandma walked in right then. I will miss him and all of his quirky ways but I can't help but feel a great sense of relief that he and Grandma won't be apart nearly as long as Trent and I will. At the funeral we had a family meeting instead of a formal viewing. Our very large family met in the chapel and were invited to come to the pulpit to share a memory of Grandpa. I hadn't planned on saying anything but suddenly found myself walking up the aisle toward the pulpit. I told of a time several years ago when Trent's parents had recently separated. I was visiting my grandparents and I must have told them a little of what was going on with Trent's parents. My grandpa looked at me and said, "Holly, you get in the other room and call your mother-in-law." I told him I wasn't going to do that. I had no idea what I would say to her. A few minutes later he repeated his instructions. Again I refused saying that she was causing us pain and I didn't have anything to say to her. He didn't have to tell me the third time because I knew I was not going to get away with it. Quite frankly, I was surprised he let me tell him 'no' twice already. So I went in the other room and called my mother-in-law. Our conversation was brief and superficial. I am sure that nothing that was said changed either one of our lives one iota. BUT, what I learned that day was monumental. Love is not conditional. It is not okay to love only when we are being treated kindly, or to refuse love when we feel we are being hurt. We don't turn love off and on like a light switch, to anyone, especially to our Father in Heaven. It is really easy to be devoted and loving and grateful to our Father in Heaven when life is good and the road is smooth. The test is to remain faithful when the road is uphill and rocky.
For Mother's Day I was completely spoiled. Jack and Charlie made me a hot pad with their hand prints on it. Jack made a booklet to his "nice stepmom" that listed all the things he liked about me. Jarom and Mallory made notes for me as well. I don't have great pictures of all of them but here are at least a few.
|Man this is a good looking kid!|
|Not great of either of us...but he is TALLER than me!!!!|
Yes, I ate a lot of breakfast that day. Brad spoiled me with gifts and an awesome dinner. Among other things, he made Linda's favorite potatoes and I have to agree, they were awesome! It was our first Mother's Day celebrated as a new, big family and I think it went well. Everyone was allowed time to honor their own mother and they all did a great job making me feel appreciated for the role I have in each of their lives.
Memorial Day was the next hurdle. I invited Trent's family to share Saturday with us but only two of his brothers and their families were able to make it. Brad was, of course, out of town visiting his wife's grave so we celebrated the weekend separately. We met at the cemetery with my parents, two of my brothers, and their families as well. We didn't do anything huge, just placed flowers and a fresh pack of Swedish Fish on the grave. Then we sat on the grass and ate a huge two pound bag of Swedish Fish in Trent's honor. Afterward we went to Moore's for dinner and really slammed them with thirty people! I have decided that in the future I can't expect everyone to acknowledge all the days that I think are important for Trent. That might be just a bit too much for them. The center of their worlds did not die, just mine. Hopefully we can plan one day every year that everyone can get together and remember Trent. That will be enough for me.
I handled that whole day quite well but the next day was different. I should have seen it coming. It is beginning to be a bit of a pattern for me. The day of is usually fine but the days after have seen the crash over and over again. I had to teach the lesson in Relief Society on Sunday. It was about the Resurrection. I was quite emotional throughout the lesson and it totally drained me for the rest of the day. I don't know why crying makes me so tired, but it does. I tried to call Brad after we got out of church but he didn't answer. No biggie except that I needed him so badly right then! That just made me feel so alone. The tears started and didn't really stop until the next day. When Brad came home he did his best to comfort me but all I could do was cry. It really stinks that we both have a real reason to celebrate Memorial Day now. The next few days were a blur of emotions, tears, and me pulling away from everyone. I did my best to stay present physically but mentally I was on another planet. Thankfully after a few days I was able to pull out of it. It is hard to do but it really is a decision I have to make. I have to decide to be happy and present. I can't spend my life mourning the past. I need to take time to do it every once in a while but I have to be able to enjoy the life I am living now too.
I am beginning to see more and more that I am in a partnership with Linda to raise her children and it is the same for Brad and Trent. Linda and Trent are relying heavily on Brad and I to do our best with all of our kids. Brad has been really good with my kids and has worked hard to form a bond with all the kids that will let him...not all of them do. Since the weather has been warmer I have taken at least one day a week for a field trip with the three little ones. We usually pack a lunch and go to a new park to play. A few weeks ago we were at the zoo and as we were walking to the picnic table I felt a quick rush of emotion. It didn't make me cry, it just felt warm and the only word I could use to describe it was appreciation. I didn't think much of it until a couple of days later when Brad said how much he appreciated what I was doing with the kids. At that moment it clicked in my head and heart that the emotion I felt was Linda. Then a couple of weeks later I felt it again and was able to easily recognize her. Carter was being set apart as the Deacons quorum president and Brad was assisting in the blessing. I knew instantly what she needed me to tell Carter and that she needed me to give him a hug too. I hadn't done that with Carter yet. He likes me from a distance mostly. We talk and tease each other and he is always very polite to me and does what I ask. Lately we have been a little closer but the hug was uncharted territory. After the blessing was finished Carter shook hands with everyone and hugged his dad. Before I left the room I walked over to Carter and whispered in his ear the things I felt from Linda and gave him a hug. I was more than surprised when he reached up and hugged me back. Tears sprang to my eyes as I left. I was humbled to be the mouthpiece if you will, for Linda. It was an experience I will not soon forget.
Blending these families is hard work. Every day. But little by little we are making progress. Our edges are softening and our patience is growing. We are figuring out how and where we all fit. Thankfully I know that both Trent and Linda are near and are doing everything they can to help us. Believe me, we can use all the help we can get. :)