Monday, February 22, 2010

Blog Therapy

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your comments and prayers and supportive words last week. You have no idea how much it meant to open my RSS reader, or email and see another comment from one of you wishing us well or mentioning that you were thinking of us, sending positive thoughts, or just saying "hang in there." This is one of my favorite things about my blogging, running, athlete friends, that we are all there for each other in this virtual friendship.

This blog has become a therapy of sorts for me. I don't write much about anything that is truly profound or earth shattering (e.g. OMFG...the herd ran again this weekend, had a flat tire, and drank mimosas!!!! GAH!) but every once in awhile, the Hefferblog gives me an opportunity to go on about something serious, and after I've written about it, and you all have commented that I'm not a crazy lunatic with only a tenuous grip on reality, I feel better....or at least I feel better knowing that there are other crazy lunatics with only tenuous grips on reality out there keeping me company. Not writing this week felt strange. Funny how something I didn't do until about two years ago could become so much a part of me.

I've thought A LOT this week about whether or not I would even write any more about my mother in law's passing. It's a difficult topic for me. Let's just say that MIL and I had a complicated relationship. I was the shiksa who married her youngest son, and we didn't particularly hit it off from the beginning. My part of the blame is that I am a sorta bossy, opinionated, stubborn woman who doesn't easily ask for advice...her part is that she was also a bossy, opinionated, stubborn woman who wanted to give me lots of advice.

I also partially blame my brother-in-law. When Walter and I were getting married, we tried really hard to blend both Catholic and Jewish traditions into the ceremony, not a particularly easy task. I did LOADS of reading and research. We included some readings from the old and new testaments. We lit a unity candle. We were married under a chuppa.  Then, I realized the day before the wedding that I'd neglected to get a glass to break at the end of the ceremony, a Jewish tradition. I'd read somewhere that a light bulb works best because it gives a really good popping sound. So, I asked BIL to get something like a small light bulb and a handkerchief or cloth to wrap it in so that Walter could smash it at the end of the ceremony and everyone could shout Mazel-tov!

Who knew that BIL would decide that the light bulb/handkerchief was a cliche? Instead he slipped a full champagne class into a...

Christmas stocking

You read it right...with my name in glitter on one side, Walter's name on the other.

Although we were pretty surprised, both Walter and I laughed, completely getting the joke and the symbolism. We still have it.

MIL, on the other hand, was decidedly NOT amused, and let us know. Even though I had nothing to do with it, I think she still blamed me.

I know she didn't understand my running (I overheard her once say to someone that she didn't know how I could abandon my children and go train for a marathon) and although I think she had some idea that I wrote this blog, I don't believe that she ever read it. I know for certain that she didn't particularly appreciate my sarcastic sense of humor (Really! I'm sarcastic...didn't you know?); in fact, I tend to believe that she was mostly offended by what I usually think of as my "clever commentary."

I had to be very careful all week about that clever commentary. Early on in the week, I made a comment on a friend's FB page that was a little silly, and Walter told me (sweetly but directly) that he just wasn't ready for it I stayed off FB and my blog for the rest of the week. I know enough about my lack of a filter to be careful.

Then, as I sat listening to eulogies this week, I was reminded of the old adage that women marry men who remind them of their fathers and men marry women that remind them of their mothers. I never really considered myself much like MIL, but the truth is that I probably am. We both love our families furiously and protectively; we both like to give advice; neither one of us would be called a shrinking violet. Strong-willed, stubborn, bossy. These are words I've heard used to describe both of us.

And in the end, how could I not credit the woman who raised a son like Walter, AKA the best husband in the world, the one who puts up with me and my crazy-lunatic-with-a-sometimes-tenuous-grip-on-reality ways.

She was a wonderful grandmother to my kids. She baked them cookies, made them lunch, babysat them when they were babies and toddlers, gave them loads of advice (which they were far more willing to take than I ever was).

We buried her on Wednesday. It was a lovely service with mostly family and a few close friends. Then on Sunday, there was a memorial service attended by over 150 people at the Temple. Both Walter and DramaGirl gave beautiful eulogies which made me proud of them in so many ways that I can't articulate. In between those two days, my and Walter's home was sort of like family central. This is the place where the family came after the burial and where we ate loads of food. This is where we had a kick-ass BBQ with his cousins the night before the memorial (I swear, I only did the tequila shots because I was supporting his cousins...I swear it). I love that our families can gather in our home and feel comfortable enough to just hang out.

On Saturday morning, I went running at Lake BP. I ran a little over 6 miles in 1:04/10:46, one of my fastest 10Ks ever. I got rained on (twice), but didn't really care because I was out running. I was grateful that I have running to keep me balanced, and it sort of helped me to think all this out. Even if MIL never understood what running does for me, she didn't really need to. I know what it does for me.

So, even though she would have NEVER appreciated that with the help of the herd, we renamed a local lake according to the shape that the running path appears to have when viewed from overhead, my Saturday morning run was for Iris, my MIL. Thanks for all you have given me.

Lake BP

Me at the 1/2 way point at Lake BP (if you don't touch the target, it doesn't count!)

Just a gorgeous morning (a moment between the two cloudbursts)


  1. Oh, wow... I missed your blog from last week. I'm sorry to hear about your mother-in-law.

    I like how you recognize that you and your MIL were probably a lot alike. Sometimes it's hard not to butt heads with people who are like ourselves. I bet she admired you for your bossiness and outspoken personality, even if she didn't tell you.

    I'm pretty sure I figured out what your group calls that run. Too funny!!

  2. I don't think Mom's ever like the women that marry their sons. My MIL and I had a "complicated" relationship too. (That's putting it in a nice way).
    I hope every day will get easier for you and hubby. ;)

  3. I'm with Jo Lynn, mothers never like the girl they lose their son to. I never had a MIL, she died a week after we got engaged, but I would like to think she'd be remembered as Iris is now, for all of her good qualities and contributions to the family.

  4. Relationships with the outlaws are always complex. I'm sorry for your loss.

  5. . I've been thinking about you and your family and how much you truly helped me grieve when my mom passed by giving me a place to live and a cat to love. I could never adequately return the favor. Love you guys.

  6. One of your best blogs ever. If your MIL can bring that out of you and make you that reflective, win-win. I'm sitting here crying as a I read this, so perfect. Love you! Daisy

  7. This was a beautifully written post. I'm sorry for your loss, but I'm glad that you have this blog forum to sort through your thoughts and come to a wonderful conclusion on a conflicted relationship. Thank you for sharing with all of us!

  8. Mom's are very protective of their sons, this I have observed. Both you and your MIL sound like strong women! Great post, C!

  9. I hope Walter will get through this OK, but with you by his side it sounds like he'll be fine.

    Ditto on what everyone said about moms and their sons.

    It kinda felt good to run in the rain this weekend, didn't it? Kind of therapeutic.

    It's good to see you back.

  10. Thanks for sharing your touching and funny thoughts and story about your MIL. I feel like I should appreciate my MIL more and I appreciate your post. I hope your family is doing well.

  11. Beautiful!

    (love, Betty)

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  13. "I am a sorta bossy, opinionated, stubborn woman who doesn't easily ask for advice...her part is that she was also a bossy, opinionated, stubborn woman who wanted to give me lots of advice." sounds like my relationship with my *mother*!

    What a touching post akaAlice. I honestly have a tear in my eye. Thank you for sharing.

  14. ok, now I have to explain to my family why I am sitting on the sofa crying. What a great blog today.

  15. Hm. That's as good as it gets in terms of MIL praise. Makes one think and re-think relationships. I'm adding you to my blogroll.