Exploring MILS & DILS as “Family, Friends and Allies” led me to visit with Susan, a woman who has 33 years of experience as a DIL with “a very strong-willed woman” as her MIL. In her words “We have journeyed along a hard road, but have successfully traversed that road to arrive where we are now finally friends.” Here is part of her story – truly “a hard road” which, by the grace of God, their relationship survived and it continues still. Read on ….
Susan has six sons. She brags about it on her car’s license plate. I’m envious, although it’s highly likely I would have lost my mind if I’d had that many kids, never mind all boys. She rattles off their names, pausing to do the math when I ask their ages.
“I had a daughter between Alex and David. That’s why there is a gap …. I wasn’t slacking off! She died as a baby at two and a half months old.”
I think my heart skipped a beat as the shock of what she had just said registered in my mind. She had lost her only daughter? I told her that she didn’t need to talk about this, if she didn’t want to. She suggested that it was pretty pertinent to our discussion about the MIL/DIL relationship.
Susan and her family had been traveling from Oklahoma to Virginia and had stopped along the way to visit her in-laws.
“We had brought a crib and had set it up in the van. It was sturdy with wooden slats on the sides. When we got to my in-laws’ home, we planned to bring in the crib for our infant daughter. My MIL said ‘No, we have a crib.’ It was really a playpen with mesh sides and a pad on the bottom. I wanted to bring the crib in because Sophie was used to it and it was safe.
‘No, no, no. Use my crib” her MIL had said and Susan had relented, yielding to her MIL’s wishes.
I held my breath and pressed my lips together, sensing that my heart was about to break on Susan’s behalf. Please don’t let her say what I think she is going to say next!
“So, I used her ‘crib’ and that night Sophie got wedged between the mattress and the sides and she suffocated.”
In the middle of a busy afternoon at a coffee shop, the two of us were caught in a moment where there was no sound … no movement …. just deep sadness & pain. I looked directly at her, stunned. More than 20 years later, her eyes watered and she blinked back the tears.
“How do you get over that?” I asked as much to myself as to her, wondering if one ever could.
“God” she replied simply and then repeated herself. “God. That’s the only way.”
I’m trying to imagine the extent of the anger toward the woman who had played such a role in the death of a child and I just had to ask. “How do you forgive your MIL after something like that? And not simply forgive, but want to continue the relationship … and even…” I paused here, considering … “… even love her?” Is it possible?
Susan repeated her answer. “God. God is BIG! He’s SO big!
To be continued ….