My (ex) mother-in-law, Rita, lies in a coma, at age 90 after having her life support removed on Wednesday. Memories are cascading through my mind like the waves on the beach in South Chatham , MA. South Chatham is a quaint town nestled in the elbow ofCape Cod where Rita and her husband Jim, owned three houses. Eventually, one of the houses was sold to non-family and my ex-husband and I bought the other. We spent many wonderful times on the Cape. The beach, just one-tenth of a mile away, was protected by Nantucket Sound, so unless there was a storm at sea, the water had gently rolling waves, which lapped at a shore teeming full of sea life. Our kids loved to dig for clams, pick up crabs that were scurrying to safety, throw seaweed at each other and climb on the jetties, proving how brave they were as they waved to us from the rocks on the very end.
Of course, nothing is completely idyllic. Rita could be quite difficult and since I have an ex, it's obvious that the marriage eventually dissolved, after 22 years. But that is life, isn't it? The yin and yang, the light-side and shadow-side, the up and down? I loved Rita and still do, she was important to my younger self in many ways. She helped me become the person I am today and I helped her become a better person, too. Across our generational divide we had an unspoken agreement to help each other navigate tricky terrain. And, I am the better for it. I learned a lot about myself through my relationship with Rita. I grew and changed. I became a more mature and confident woman. Everyone needs mentors and teachers in life, without them life's journey can seem like Alice's journey in Wonderland , a confusing and hazardous terrain.
I have been blessed with many wonderful mentors and teachers in my life and it's never easy to let them go. But let go I must because that is the path to personal growth. In the end all we have are ourselves. I will do my part to let Rita go through the gate that is waiting for her. May her journey be peaceful.
Thank you Rita. I will miss you, but never forget you.