October 2, 2008

The Stepmom

This is by far my favorite picture taken during my visit to New Jersey this summer.  I'm sure that when she sees it, she will not think it is beautiful, but I do.  I think it is amazing.  Going through hard times, she is stressed and unsure.  In this picture, she is all grace and sadness and quiet and peace.

It wasn't always easy.  I had strained relationships with both of my step-parents as a child.  I have always been very outward with my emotions, and this was no exception.  I remember a time that she read something I'd written that said I hated her.  I was probably in middle school, or maybe a freshman in high school.  The moment broke my heart.  She said she didn't know what to do, didn't know how she could try more, or be what we wanted her to be.  She said she was finished.  Looking back at it now, all I can imagine is the pain she must have felt.

As an adult, I see things differently.  She was our caretaker.  Our Dad was there, but my stepmom was the sinew holding our little family together.  She made sure we got to go shopping for school clothes, she planned activities for us.  She cared for us as if we were her own even though she had come into our lives late and didn't have the ability to appreciate her for what she was.

How difficult it must be coming into a child's life.  A child who is hurt by her parents divorce, not sure of who she can trust, and unable to even understand exactly what she might be feeling.  To come into her life and make sure she is loved, she is supported.  To work hard to foster a relationship between her and her father when he's not able to handle it on his own.

Now I am an adult.  I see her going through hard times.  The last year has been full of heartache, pain, shock, and ultimately will end in an awful divorce.  I can't imagine being in her place.  My heart is broken, I want to make it better.  I wish there was something I could do for her, some way to help, to make things easier and let her believe that it will all be okay.  I wish I didn't live so far away, and that I could be there for her in the middle of the night when hope flees and she is alone.  She knows that I'm there for her.  That this won't change anything, she will always be in my life and will always be a very important part of Sam's life.  Watching her love him is amazing.  Watching her cope with her 10 year old in the middle of the night in full blown anger mode manifesting in something small and inconsequential, but reeking of anger and fear over the divorce, I wanted to take her in my arms and hold her until she fell into a deep sleep and could rest her weary mind.

She doesn't know she is amazing.  Some days, I don't think she believes she'll make it to the other side of this tunnel.  She doesn't know her place with her family-in-law anymore, or how they will deal with her.  I know she will work hard to continue relationships with them, especially for the sake of her 10 year old daughter, who she loves with all her heart.  She is alone now, unsure of what it means that the last 20 years culminated in this end to her marriage.

She doesn't know what I know.  That she is beautiful.  That she is kind.  That one day, she will find love again.  That she doesn't have a lifetime of being alone to look forward to.  That she deserves more, and that I'll be praying, no matter how long it takes, that she'll find it.  That she will heal, and her heart will be whole and stronger than ever.

She is beautiful, and I love her more than I can say.


Kori said...

Oh, what a wonderful tribute; I felt the same way about my stepmom, and it brok my heart when she died. I hope she reads this, I hope she hows that she IS family, regardless of marital ties, and Ithink yo uare such a gifted write. I am totally in awe of you. Oh, and I like the new look, too.

Shana said...

That is a really beautiful thing. I think it's wonderful that even though she won't be "family", to you she still will be.

Mom said...

You have a great capacity for love and loyalty. I am proud of you.

Kimberly said...

I really admire this post. I had a step dad growing up and our relationship was far from this.

Beautiful indeed.

The stepmom said...

You made me cry. Good tears, though. I love you.