Today, I need to tell you a story about two angels. These two wonderful beings who I hold so incredibly close to my heart. I cannot think of them or talk about them and not be moved to tears, and they will forever be a part of me.
In May, my father-in-law’s life came to an end, in a horribly tragic, sudden and unexpected way. We don’t know why, and we’ll never know why, and that is heartbreaking. All we know is that we loved him very, very much. And he loved us. And sometimes life is too hard to handle. And we need to leave it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There isn’t. It’s just hard, especially for those of us left behind.
It was the worst day of our life, and the remaining several months were no better.
Because here’s what happens, in a tragedy: everyone hides.
It’s bullshit, and it’ll tear you apart, and it’ll make you question every single experience you’ve ever had. My husband, I have never in my life seen anyone go through so much pain, and I hope to never, ever see it again. There’s nothing worse than a complete tragedy in your life, and there’s nothing worse than being alone. And for months, he was alone. And I hate that, to my absolute core. If nothing else, if you’re reading this, know that when people are dealing with a tragedy, reach out. It can be as simple as a text message. Just do something, anything. And keep doing it. Because pain and grief do not last a day. They last weeks, and months. And don’t tell the person to get over it, don’t tell them to move on, don’t tell them that life is good and they need to look at the positive. Remember that this is not about you. When someone is in the midst of grief, they don’t know how to ask for help. So you need to step up to the plate, and be there. Listen, and reach out. Be vulnerable. Stay open. Shut off your prejudices. Just spread love.
For now, I know in my heart, what happened was somehow designed to happen. I don’t know why, and I don’t think I ever will, but thankfully, we were graced with two magical beings, at the right place, at the right time.
We were sent two angels.
The two weeks after his death are a complete blur. They were horrible. We holed up in a two-room hotel suite because we couldn’t bear to be at the home that my mother- and father-in-law lived in. It was the three of us: my husband, myself, and my mother-in-law. We barely left the hotel. Thankfully, they had a restaurant, a full bar, and a piano. We needed that more than anything.
And one night, the evening that belonged to the day that we scattered my father-in-law’s ashes, we met our two angels. Earlier, we had a beautiful ceremony, just the three of us, on his farm, on the land he loved; we played songs, and sang, and balled our eyes out, and choked on our tears, and shared memories, and laughed, and stirred dirt, and moved magical crystal rocks, and said our words to the spirits above.
And that evening, he presented us with two angels. I’m not glazing over this. I’m not storytelling. These two incredible souls are angels. And they were meant to enter our lives more than anyone else at the time.
We were eating dinner at the table next to the grand piano, in the hotel lobby, and up walks two women, who sit down at the piano, and they begin to sing, and play. And my mother-in-law, my god how I love her more than I could ever explain, she asks if we can join them. Because that’s how she is: she says yes to life, every single day. She has no qualms about talking to strangers.
And they, thankfully, said yes.
And so these two women, they sang for us, and we clapped along, and we sang along, and we bonded with them, these two strangers, faster and more fully than I have ever bonded with another human being. These two women were sent to us.
We finally opened up about why we were at the hotel, and what we’d gone through. And they hugged us, and held our hands, and they cried with us, and they shared their stories, and they listened to ours.
And they did not judge. They only offered love.
These two strangers presented us with what we needed, with something that no one else could provide. They gave us love. They held us. They did not judge our situation. They offered nothing but absolute and total love. They brought acceptance and laughter and music and vulnerability and grace into our lives. They asked how we were coping. They told us stories about their loss. They came to us in our darkest hour, and they opened their hearts for us. They prayed for us, and they moved us, through the power of music.
Music is what brought us together. Music, above everything else in this world, is my religion. It is my soul. It is what connects me closest to my highest power. It is my god. And these two women, they are our angels. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that my father-in-law sent them to us. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that there is something truly magical, truly wonderful about our world.
Religion and heaven and god are concepts that I have an incredibly hard time talking about. I’m not religious. Growing up Catholic in the 80’s will force every aspect of religion out of you. But I understand grace, and I understand love, and I understand wanting to feel a part of something bigger. And I will tell you, you’ll never want to grasp on to something other than you in a greater way more than when you lose someone you love tragically, and you are left with nothing but questions.
And I will also tell you, there are angels. There are. I cannot explain how these two found us. And I cannot explain the healing that occurred that night.
But that night, we will never, ever forget it. That night bonded us more than anything else. We will forever be connected, our five souls, moving through this world.
To Vickye and Rhonda, wherever you are, bless you. Merry Christmas. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I will never be able to thank you enough. Thank you for saying yes to three strangers. Thank you for being open and sharing your celebration weekend with us. Thank you, more than anything, for listening, and not judging, and not commenting. For offering nothing but love and acceptance and the incredible gift of music.
And to John. I love you so much. I wish I could say it to your face one last time. I wish I could see you laugh one last time. I wish you and I could bond one last time. I wish, more than anything, that your son could say he loves you, to your face, one last time. And that you could hold him, one last time. You and I were more alike than I ever understood, and more different than I want to believe. Thank you for accepting me and for sharing experiences with me that I will never forget. Thank you for being the absolute best father-in-law a girl could ever hope for. Thank you for bringing these two angels into our lives when we needed them most. Thank you for sending your love.
Oh, and very funny about the ticks. Damn your eyes.
We’ll get you back someday.
If you have read my blog, you know that I’m in love with New Mexico. I talk about that state way too much. Every time I visit, I cry when I leave. That place is complete magic to me. And these cookies, they are from New Mexico. I based them on a recipe from the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, that they posted from Jane Butel. They are spicy and sweet and perfect. You will love them. Make them the next chance you get.