At almost exactly this moment, four years ago, my mother-in-law passed away from lung cancer. I can't believe it's been four years already. And yet, I can't believe it's only been four years.
Vera was diagnosed on May 5, 2005 and passed away July 6, 2005. I’d only known her for a few short months, but like so many who had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know her, she was immensely special to me. She remains special to me. She is the reason I took up the needles again.
Before, knitting had been a passing hobby. It was something I’d learned to do when I was in the early teens, taught the knit stitch and a very rudimentary cast-on by a friend. Acrylic yarn and big, plastic needles were the only things I knew how to knit with, and I wasn’t really a fan. It was relaxing, but also completely infuriating at the same time.
So instead, I crocheted. It was okay, but I coveted knit fabric. The drape, the prettiness. I wanted to do that! Instead, my fabric was inelastic, inflexible.
After meeting my now-husband, Robbie, I began to expand as a person. I came out of my shell a lot, accepted the person I am, and I became an adult. I met his parents, and I LOVED them. His mother was everything I wanted in an extended family. She was smart, funny, beautiful, and handy. She could lay a hardwood floor during the day and knit a sweater at night.
Her yarns of choice were acrylics, fun furs, and everything I now refuse to knit with, but she was one of those rare knitters that could turn the flat-out ugliest yarns on the planet into beautiful, functional pieces. Regular handicraft cotton became delicate shawls. Pink fun fur became adorable baby sweaters. Scratchy acrylic transformed into soft, durable sweaters.
When Vera passed, our lives fell into two categories. Pre-death and post. For weeks after she passed, each time the phone rang, we would think, is this Vera? And now, four years later, I still wonder how our lives would be different, how they would be better, if she were still here. She would dote on our daughter, her first grandchild who never had the pleasure of meeting her. There would still be dinners at her house, she’d still be married to Robbie’s step-dad. Together, they’d have six grandkids now, up from zero four years ago.
There’d still be phone calls and jokes and great clothes as Christmas gifts. Her knitting basket and needles and yarn would not be sitting in my house, but in hers. Our family would not be missing something. I would not cry every time I hear Amazing Grace, and I would not have strange urges to wander the halls of Unit 47 of the hospital I work in.
I would not miss.
I miss her.