Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: IN-LAWS( 07/11/19)
| TITLE: Always, Your Daughter |
By Karlene Jacobsen
| ~ 3rd Place |
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I couldn’t face you. Not that day. Maybe not ever.
Your hopes and dreams had been tied up in Jimmy’s successes. Your life tangled in his. And now, he was gone. In a matter of moments, ripped from all of us.
At 20-years old, I was barely settling into my new role as wife and mother when the knock came on my door. Jimmy hadn’t come home from work, yet, but I wasn’t worried because he was a cautious man behind the wheel of a car. Their words made no sense as my room spun away from my senses. Not until I woke on the sofa, and one of the officers held my infant son, soothing his cries while the other officer watched over me did I begin to make sense of what these men were doing in my home.
Their one-word mess began to separate into syllables. Syllables became words then sentences, and our lives had taken an unforeseen turn into an abyss of my own creation. But that story is for another time. I had to face you, Jimmy’s mom, and also his dad. The people who’d chosen him as a son. Your only son . . .
What could I have said to ease your pain? I had no idea how to process my own let alone help with yours.
Days later, we stood side-by-side, watching as Jimmy was carried out the chapel doors into the car waiting to help him complete his earthly journey. You gripped my hand and wouldn’t let go. You were strong. Your eyes reddened with unshed tears. Were you trying to comfort me? I’d said nothing to you beyond telling of your son’s crash.
Over the years, you have been a constant. Often, just as I would succumb to temptation and believe it was Jimmy’s son who kept you coming around you’d come knocking on my door after he left for school, “To say hello,” you’d say and find your way to my kitchen, pour a cup of coffee and visit for an hour or so before running off to finish your “to-do list.”
If I were to be completely honest, I would admit to you that I wished you’d go away. I’d failed you. Why were you being so attentive? To be with your grandson I could understand, but me? Who was I other than the girl who got pregnant, married your son, gave birth to his son, and became widowed in a year’s time? But even on my worst days, you were there. In my darkest moments, you remained with me.
I couldn’t understand you. My own family threw me out when I came home expecting. They were too busy for me in the years I struggled as a single mom. I can count all the times I would drop my son at your home so I could go off and quit on life for a while. You’d offer a hug, a hot cup of coffee, and a meal before I left. At the end of the day, it was I who used your kindness to my advantage, with my son as leverage rather than you hanging around because of your grandchild.
When my life went off the rails and I began making terrible life choices, you were still there, in the wings, waiting with open arms. You never judged me—to my face. You never blamed me for Jimmy’s death—that I am aware of. You could’ve turned away when I found love again and married; instead, you called me your daughter and helped plan the wedding.
Now, you’re with Jimmy, and I am left holding my grown son . . . wishing.
Wishing I could go back in time and thank you for those moments when I wanted to give up, and you held on. To thank you for showing me how to parent when I was completely lost. To hug you back for all those times you refused to let me go out in the cold angry, defeated, and depressed. If I could do it all over again, I would tell you how grateful I am for the moments you allowed me to have with Jimmy. Most importantly, I am forever grateful that you showed me the way to Jesus’ loving embrace.
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