Stepson's mom just died :( (very long!)
I met my hubby when my stepson was 5. I quickly fell in love with this sad, needy child and since I couldn't have children, felt that I needed these two in my life, as much as they needed me. His ex was a mess, she had a history of anorexia, bulimia, alcohol and drug abuse, all in the name of staying skinny and beautiful. She was an awful mother, and the divorce was ugly. She was the kind of person who spent the child support money on herself, she bought new cars, a boat, and a house, all while fluanting it in my hubby's face, calling him a bum and telling people that he couldn't have supported her right if she had stayed with him. (Outright lies, too, she had a good life when they were married, she just liked to run around with any guy she could find when her husband was gone on a tour of duty). I'll call my stepson Brian to simplify. Brian was a lonely child who wanted his parents back together, and didn't trust women. He loved his mother, but didn't trust her. She would break promises all the time, and she married a man old enough to be her father because she thought he had money. This is the kind of woman who, once she had custody, would leave the poor child with his father for days on end, with no communication, then when she wanted him, would show up late to pick him up, then drop him off at her sister's house, and all this would go on while he was paying child support. Brian would call from his aunt's house and ask to come home. I would frequently end up picking him up, and I struck up a friendship with the aunt. I found that Brian's mother was the lost soul of the family, she had ticked off the entire family by her behavior, and basically excluded them from her life. Through the years I became close to this family and had a great deal of sympathy for them, they were good, hardworking, intelligent people and didn't deserve the treatment that they got from Brian's mom. They always treated us like family, and Brian's cousins called us aunt & uncle, and still do. Brian is 19 now, and last October his mother was diagnosed with pancriatic cancer. She died April 27, in her parents home. She had lost her house, her cars & her boat and her husband packed up and moved to low-income apartments with thier daughter, who is now 14. Even with all the awful things she had done in the past, when we went to see her in the hospital and saw her family, we wept and prayed with them and her. She begged my forgiveness in front of the entire family, and praised me for being the good mother to her son that she was not. She hugged me and cried on my shoulder. It was heartbreaking. I told her mother (who I am very fond of, and it just kills me to see her hurt like that) that I couldn't love Brian and hate his mother, because she was part of him. I told Brian's mother that I forgave her, and I told her that I would be there for him and her daughter, and that she was welcome in my house. (The daughter still calls me auntie). It was a very sad, heart-wrenching time for everyone. The thing that hit me most was that my own mother died when I was 26, of breast cancer. I feel that I am meant to be with these families because I know what they are going through. I told them about my mother, and I talk to Brian about how I dealt with it when she died. My husband is crushed, she was his first love, and he always felt that they should have stayed married. I understand that, as much as it hurts to know that I'll never be his first, and I'll never have the place in his heart that she did. I comfort myself with knowing that, being the supportive person I am, during all this time, our relationship has survived terrible trials, and we grew strong in our love for one another. We still have a long way to go through this, and a lot of work to do to keep Brian on an even keel, especially since he blames his stepfather for his mother's death, and fears for his sister's wellbeing. All these years of fighting to support Brian through his mother's antics and downright meanness have meant that we had to put a great deal of things on hold, our personal lives, our living arraingements, our budget, even our jobs were affected by the things that she did. Now we can finally begin to have the freedom of not worrying about her pulling one of her notorious "slap a guilt trip on Brian because (insert emergency here) and he wasn't there to watch out for her" phone calls. We won't know what to do with ourselves. Our whole family even bought houses near to her so that Brian would have a place to go to when something happened and he needed help! Part of me is really crushed though, I feel the pain that Brian is going through losing his mom. In spite of the fact that he is older now and now he knows that she did some awful things, (like gambling away the money that was supposed to have been set aside as a college fund for him and his sister), he still recogises that she was his mother, and he loved her and wanted to protect her, and it eats him up that he couldn't help her or do something to make things better for her. Part of me aches for him going through that. Part of me is devastated for her parents and siblings, who loved her so much. Part of me is glad that it's finally over, that we all can go about our lives halfways normally, but out of it all, this person who created such havoc, such torment, and negatively affected so many lives, will be remembered as someone pitied, hated, and loved all at once, simply because she was so lost in this world, and no matter what she did, she couldn't seem to do anything right. I am far from perfect, but part of me is thankful that I am the way I am, and not in the same boat she was. Now my job is to counsel my hubby and Brian and give them the support and love they need to get past her death, so that they can enjoy life, and go on. I hope that by posting this, someone else can find comfort or help from it. I believe that we are all here to learn, and if I can in some small way help someone else to deal with thier own problems in life, then I am doing my job. I pray that no one else has to go through this kind of thing to learn what I have learned. It is much better in life to be of help to those around you, and give of yourself, than to constantly be self-serving and self-absorbed. I would much rather give up my childhood dreams and be known as the rock of my family, the one who was always there for everyone, the one that everyone could count on for support, than pursue my own selfish wants. This way of life has been so rewarding, I have gained the kind of love in my life that most people only dream of, and I have an extensive family that loves me for who I am. What more could I ask for? All the other things in life are simply bonuses. I know that I will be remembered for how I treated people in this life, not fame, fortune, beauty, or prestige, those things are fleeting and temporary. Love is forever.