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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)

TITLE: In Love And Desperation
By Joanne Sher


"I'm so glad you're here." Those were the only words I could force from my mouth as I held her tight.

"Me too. It's going to be all right, dear." Neither of our voices was above a whisper.

We both needed the embrace, the encouragement to hang on, the hope for the future. We were desperate for the strength to work through--to think through--the events of the past few days. I certainly can't speak for Sheryl, but I know I was glad to see her walk through the hospital room door at that moment. Her hug was precious, as were her words.

It made no difference to me that we were not blood relatives, or that she wasn't even related to him by blood. It didn't matter that she was "just" his step-mother. Sheryl loved him with a maternal love, and she treated me like the daughter she'd never had.

My own mother, the one I'd turned to for every scary, frightening situation in my first half-dozen years, was no longer living. My step-mother, who had taken her place (to an extent, anyway) in those matters for the next dozen or two years, was three thousand miles away.

For the past decade or so, I'd had someone else to turn to with my fears--someone new with which to share them. My husband, Mark, became my protector: the one who scared away the boogie man and comforted me in my troubles. But today, when I needed someone to do just that, not only was he unavailable, but he was what was scaring me.

Then, of course, there was God. Was he there? Undoubtedly. And, yes, he comforted me. But sometimes having a physical person you can actually touch and talk to can make a difficult situation a bit easier to handle.

It was my husband in that hospital bed, and we really had no answers. When hospital personnel were mentioning "mass" and "brain" in the same sentence, however, best-case scenarios were not the first things to come to mind. Sure, God was in control, but how would this affect me, my family, my husband, my LIFE?

It was comforting, somehow, to have another woman there with me. Females really do seem to react to situations like this differently than men do. I needed someone who could share in my concern and fear: someone who would understand. We could certainly empathize with each other. She and I were both afraid of losing someone we loved dearly: she, her step-son of nineteen years, and me, my husband of nine.

Sheryl and I, unlike the mother-in-law stereotype, had gotten along since we'd met. Yet, something about that desperate situation, and the love we both had for Mark, created a special bond--a bond of desperation and love, if you will--between us. We were truly drawn together by this trial. This is a bond we still have, five years later. The trial is not gone either, though it is different: less immediate, more controlled, if you will. And through it all, Sheryl was, and is, there.

I had other ladies in my life during this time, and they were certainly a blessing. Yet, God knew what I needed at that moment in the hospital room (and several others over the next few years): a woman who loved me, and Mark, in a way only a maternal figure could--and could do it in person. God gave us that woman in Sheryl.

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This article has been read 1505 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/15/08
This is a beautiful tribute to "mother-in-law" and "mother." You and he have been fortunate to have two who fit that category well.
Sharlyn Guthrie05/17/08
What a lovely tribute to her!
Joy Faire Stewart05/18/08
I enjoyed the soft, gentle feel of the story. And I liked the MC's personality, you expressed perfectly.
Lyn Churchyard05/18/08
Beautifully written story. I thoroughly enjoyed the voice, and your descriptions. " But sometimes having a physical person you can actually touch and talk to can make a difficult situation a bit easier to handle." Yes, Jesus with skin on. How we need that in our life at times like this.
Superb job.
Laury Hubrich 05/18/08
This is a nice piece, Joanne. I feel like I was there with you during a very scary time in your life.
Betty Castleberry05/18/08
Joannne, I am so glad you are sharing your real-life experiences with us. You make me feel like I am right there experiencing everything with you, and make me realize what you went through. That's the mark of a good writer.
LaNaye Perkins05/18/08
I agree, this is a lovely tribute to your MIL. Your heart of love for her showed clearly in this piece. Very well done my friend.
Jan Ackerson 05/18/08
Beautiful, Joanne! I understand and have felt the same emotions in a different hospital setting, but I really, really related.

Red ink: use italics instead of bold for emphasis. Bold is ususally reserved for subheadings in non-fiction works, that sort of thing.

So very minor--this is powerful, and the full-length work will be, too.
Yvonne Blake 05/18/08
Isn't it wonderful when God brings someone into our life at just the right times? I know that many times, a friend is closer than a blood relative.
LauraLee Shaw05/18/08
Your authentic testimony moved my emotions today. You blessed me and will bless so many others going through difficult trials with the ones we love, and you did an excellent job of weaving it into the topic.
Debbie Roome 05/18/08
This is heartfelt and you conveyed the emotion so well.
Sally Hanan05/18/08
Now that I've read "beautiful tribute" in the comments, I can't seem to find other words for my own comment, but nevertheless...it is. As for red ink re. the book, I'd lengthen it to include more description of the hospital, the room, your DH on the bed, etc. to draw us more into the setting--something you should find easy.
Mariane Holbrook 05/18/08
What's another word for tribute? Ive run out of words to describe this lovely piece. It's so well done!
Dave Wagner05/19/08
I envy you your relationship with such a person. This piece is well done - I can tell it was carefully crafted. A dash too carefully, I think. Those two instances where you bolded words (I & was) were not needed. Be confident! You are a very good writer! Each of those sentences were written in such a way as to naturally read with the accent in the right place, without the extra help. I just don't want you to feel insecure about your ability to communicate. I feel it's always safer to err on the side of the reader being able to figure out what you're trying to say, rather than guide him/her. But please, this is a small nitpick - don't let it bug you. Again, it's a well done piece, and I'm glad I read it.
Debbie Wistrom05/19/08
Yes people will want to read this, sign me up for an autographed copy. I hope it will include insight from your life before you converted.

The title is well suited to this and possibly for your book.
Joshua Janoski05/19/08
Then, of course, there was God. Was he there? Undoubtedly. And, yes, he comforted me. But sometimes having a physical person you can actually touch and talk to can make a difficult situation a bit easier to handle.

I really liked this paragraph. It reminds me that even though God is there, he also wants us human beings to be there for each other as well to show love and support.

A very nice tribute and a blessing to read.
Marita Thelander 05/19/08
How awesome to have the comfort of unashamed hugs from a MIL.

Red ink? I trip up over the usage of the word "was", but that could be just me.

Glad to see a book in the works of your experiences.
Leigh MacKelvey05/21/08
I'm going to quote my favorite paragraph along with everyone else! it's worth quoting again:

"Then, of course, there was God. Was he there? Undoubtedly. And, yes, he comforted me. But sometimes having a physical person you can actually touch and talk to can make a difficult situation a bit easier to handle."

So beautiful and so right on. It will resonate with all Christians.

Jo, some red ink: I would like to see this written in present or active tense rather than passive. I agree about the bold print and the suggestion to add more specific description. In the 10th paragraph I think you can eliminate the second use of the phrase "if you will" and after the first use of the phrase, eliminate "between us". I felt they weren't necessary for the reader to understand what you are saying and it slowed me down a bit.

I KNOW God has anointed you to write this book and it will bless so many people. I hope you will take the RED INK in the spirit meant ... to get this book published and out there for the glory of God!
Love you and admire your writing,Leigh
Janice Cartwright05/21/08
I love the heart to heart voice of this and feel honored you would share a part of your life with us while at the same time giving tribute to a wonderful lady with whom you have a great relationship. There are so many in-law jokes abounding - this was refreshing in its sincerety.
Sara Harricharan 05/21/08
Great! I love how you used the title to fit it in, it seemed to really stand out for me, to think of "love" and "desperation" in the same line to describe a relationship, it's fresh and different. Great job! ^_^
Karen Wilber05/21/08
Your transparency is amazing--how you let us in to the way you felt, even the selfish parts. I liked the bit where you revealed that she was his step-mother, yet the mother/mother-in-law bonds were still as strong. That really showed the love in your family; Made the love much stronger than the desperation.
Cheri Hardaway 05/21/08
This was a special piece. It touched me especially because I am a step-mom. I have a wonderful relationship with my daughter-in-law, glory be to God, for I wrote about our first meeting in Mama Bear, here in the very challenge. Very nice work. Blessings, Cheri
Cheri Hardaway 05/21/08
... here in THIS very challenge. Oops! =) Cheri
Aaron Morrow05/21/08
Beautifully written Joanne, I sensed the both the personal struggle of wrapping your heart around the situation and the comfort you received from your mother-in-law's presence. Exceptional!
Beckie Stewart05/21/08
This is beautiful and well articulated. Good job.
David Story05/21/08
Beautiful, Joanne. Thank you so much for sharing.
I'd turn the page.
Willena Flewelling 05/22/08
Your story has a lot of meaning for me, because I went through something similar. I was 25 when I lost my first husband to a brain tumour, after only two years of marriage. Although it happened 30 years ago, it is like yesterday....

I would like to share our story some day too, but mine will be fictionalized.
Peter Stone05/22/08
What a great testimony, so glad to see your mother-in-law be such a great help and comfort in this time. I don't think you needed to bold those two words, they tended to distract rather than emphasize. Italics may have worked better.
Ann Renae Hair05/24/08
Great job! What a blessing to have this kind of relationship with MIL...I know! This is so well done I can't wait for more. Oh, and it makes me want to write! Love ya.
Dee Yoder 05/25/08
You're so right: having a person there to hug, bounce things off of, and just to share fears with makes all the difference. What an incredible journey for the three of you to share. You brought that day to life in this story and I'll feel very honored to have the chance to read about the whole journey one day; it's such a touching and on-going story for you and your family. Joanne, you're an inspiration: the light of Jesus shines from you like a beacon. (Don't ever doubt that!) He's leading you and using your life in many, many positive ways!