Rekindling the Flame of Life

My mother-in-law passed away earlier this week.  Unfortunately, it was expected.  On the last vestiges of her life, my husband was buried knee-deep in the task of making sure his mom was well-cared for and comfortable.  Although 2013 really signaled the end, my husband had the sole responsibility for taking care of and making decisions for his mom for just shy of two years since his father passed unexpectedly.  You see, my husband and I are both only children, and being an adult only child flat-out sucks at times like these.  It just sucks.  There is no one to help or not help (providing something else to be distracted or aggravated by during difficult times); no one to call any time of the day; no one to cry to or share major decision-making.  Nada, zip, zilch.  It is lonely.

My being a lonely-only too is a double whammy.  I do not add much to the mix except for me.  To make matters worse, I had crap to deal with on my side as an only.  So, he and I spent the better part of the last 6 months pre-occupied in one way or another with our own family drama, often falling into bed next to each other dead tired at night.  Most nights, both of only able to mutter out a little bit of pillow talk and that was it.  Burning the candle at both ends is playing with fire – figuratively.  Trying to remain good solid parents to our children, care for our parents, making sure Henry’s mom was comfortable and well provided for while I worry pretty much 100% of the time about my mom and her health, attend to work commitments, and friends nearly extinguished us.


I rarely talk about religion, but obviously this week was enveloped in rituals and some sort of faith.  I am Jewish, and in our religion, we light a yahrzeit candle upon the beginning of the shiva week.  The candle burns for 7 days as a remembrance of the person lost.  It is actually one of the few religious customs that captures my heart.  Not one to fall prey to what I consider someone else telling me how to handle or organize my grief or beliefs, the candle idea captivates me.  Mostly because we are marking a loss by something so bright and full of possibility.  A little flicker turns into such a bright flame with the potential to grow larger.  To me, the candle is an introduction of something positive and alive into a bleak time.

The deeper meaning here is not lost on me.  Mine and Henry’s flame somewhat dampened by chaos, stress, obligations, and commitments is not burned out.  It is just sparking with potential to burn bright again.  Really bright.  Like the burn the house down bright (again figuratively, of course).  I need to fan that flame in a big way.  Especially after seeing the unreal role model, he showed for our sons in what a son does to take care of his mother.  I am not one to get all sappy about my man, but I am smitten with him.  I will leave it at that.

Upon telling my kids about the loss of my mother-in-law, my son commented, Now, we will get daddy back.  I do not often quote the boys anymore so as to respect their privacy, but this could not go without mention.  Kids call it like it is, and they noticed.  Noticed that their dad was pre-occupied doing what he had to do.  They never said anything while it was going on, but rather respected, watched, and willed that one day soon, carefree and life-loving dad would be back full-time.  Now, he will be, but I know my sons will always be touched by the compassion and endearment in which their dad gave to his mom over the last few years.  I guess their flame is also rekindling. I can only hope that one day in about 100 years, my boys offer half of what their dad gave to his mom.

As all my goals for this week changed, appointments cancelled, priorities shifted, and 2013 had to wait for a moment, I feel hurt and pain over a loss and watching my kids cry, but I also see light.  Bright light.  That is what my kids and the candle radiate.

Is that horrible to look for the life in all of this?

photo: Flickr

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Haralee January 17, 2013, 9:27 PM

    So sorry. Your Mother-in-law’s memory will be forever living in your, your husband and your kids hearts. The role model your husband set for the kids will be useful hopefully years from now except they will have each other!
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  • Laurie Hurley January 17, 2013, 9:32 PM

    First of all, my deepest condolences for your loss. Caring for our parents to the end if what we do and I can only imagine trying to cope with this situation as an only child. It is tough and it sounds like Henry rose to the task with grace and love. It is not wrong to look for the life in all of this. My mom is dying a slow death right now and my sister, brother and I are wrought with concern. Since she lives in Palm Springs, I am gone (with laptop in hand) for three or four days at a time and my girls know it is because I have to be there for her at this time., and want to. I agree with the yahrzeit candle -it burned for 7 days in our home when my 101 grandmother passed in March of last year. Everytime I walked by it, a good memory would be sparked.
    I hope your husband finds some peace and your boys and you come back together as a family, remembering your mother-in-law with fondness.
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    • Rachel Blaufeld January 18, 2013, 4:19 PM

      I like that – “a good memory woukd be sparked”
      a lot!


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