Monday, November 26, 2012

A Letter to My Father-in-Law

Dear James,

I am heartbroken you are no longer with us.  I so looked forward to spending holidays and upcoming visits getting to know you. 

I looked forward to spending this very Thanksgiving with you.

You left us suddenly but you are free from pain now.

Nearly two decades you spent battling an incurable illness. We all thought Cancer would take you. We were wrong. It was an unexpected stroke with complications. No one saw it coming.

But I can tell you this...

Your family certainly loves you and you left one hell of an impression.

I basked in the remembrances, people telling stories about you.

How you were like a second father...

How you taught them how to cut grass...

How you always made them laugh...

I envy these people for truly knowing you. I feel robbed of that.

But I can tell you this much: I sure am proud of the son you and Sandra raised. He's pretty amazing.

He's strong, funny and loyal. He makes friends and keeps them for life. He loves his family more than life itself.

Peopled loved you like they love him. It's amazing to watch.

Jimmy will always keep your spirit alive. 

He lives to give people a hard time and they just love it!

People actually healed just a little bit faster after this part of Jimmy reemerged following his accident. It was a relief to many that this quality remained intact.

It helped them to sort of forgive that Jimmy's legs don't work, or that he was on a ventilator. Jimmy was still Jimmy. And much of that, is you.

We will never forget you. We will talk about you often. I will think of you always.

You are my husband's father.

Thank you for accepting the offer to stand up next to your son on our wedding day, even though you weren't feeling well (Sorry about that, by the way. I know you would have been more comfortable sitting).

It meant a lot to us.

Your memorial service was simply amazing. I've never seen anything quite like it.

I told myself... "I'm not going to cry. I'm okay."

What the heck did I know?

Imagine large, beautiful, rich singing voices belting from the podium -- just feet from you. Imagine a small temple. Imagine just the right words. I was shaken to the core.

There was no sense in trying to hold back the tears sitting on the very edge of my eye lids.  I just grabbed for some tissue, giving in. I could be strong another time.

I would check on our Jimmy from time to time. He would need help wiping his own tears. I didn't see any from him.

Until...

The Reverend opened up the floor for anyone to share their stories. Jimmy's Aunt started. Jimmy began to cry. In hindsight, he may have been gathering his own thoughts.

During a long silence, as we all waited to see if anyone else wanted to add to it, Jimmy made a noise.

It's a noise that's familiar to me. 

It sounds like he's gathering his breath right before he's about to speak loudly. When I heard it, my head whipped quickly in his direction.

I saw him battling tears as he started to talk. 

I started to wipe his tears, and then my own, and then his... my tissues were quite soggy.

I could hear lots of sniffling behind me. I don't think anyone expected to hear from him. I know I didn't.

Jimmy told four little stories about you. Four important times in his life when you told him you were proud of him.

One was the first time you came to see Jimmy play soccer. You told him you were proud, but asked that he play a sport a little easier to understand. I agree, James. I don't get it.

Another was when Jimmy graduated college.

And another, on the night of our wedding.  I'd like to think it was right around the time this photo was taken. You guys had your father-son moment, and Jimmy cherishes it.



The last story Jimmy told was of a talk that was had shortly after the accident.

I was so proud of my husband the night of your memorial service. I know you were too, James. I know you will always be.

You did good with this one.

You will be missed.

With Love,
Jaimie

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