"I would grieve her bright smile and the way she lit up every room she entered at least as much as I grieved my marriage."
Meghan Beaudry first met her husband in school. Her future mother-in-law was a parent volunteer for her high school youth orchestra, she shared, in a piece she wrote for TODAY.
Beaudry recalls how this woman made her feel special even before she became her mother-in-law. "She’d often slip me an extra cookie after rehearsal," she wrote. Remembering all the warmth that her mother-in-law brought to her life, she remembered a handmade card she received over a decade after her high school in which her mother-in-law had written, “You were special to me even then.”
She would crowd into her boyfriend's car with him and the rest of their family and head to the Chinatown in their city, where his mom would order some great food on the menu. "She’d place a hand on my shoulder and proudly introduce me as her daughter to the waiters, almost all of whom greeted her by name," Beaudry shared.
"My mother-in-law’s love language is food. After I got married, we’d spend time together over bowls of pho or the lunch special at a local hot pot place." Both Beaudry and her mother-in-law were teachers and they bonded over their careers also.
"I could always count on her to listen without judgment. She’d nod her head and react with empathy when I talked about a mistake I’d made or an argument I’d had, even if I was talking about her son. I listened when she shared her frustrations about her own relationships or her concern about a coworker. We shared a career path, a love for my husband, and an appreciation for a good sushi buffet," Beaudry writes speaking about the love and friendship her mother-in-law showered upon her.
But two years into her marriage, she became severely ill due to an autoimmune disease. This caused her husband to become sullen and distant, but her mother-in-law moved in with them to take care of her.
"Our kitchen filled with barbecue pork, chicken over rice and my favorite homemade sushi. She slipped bits of chicken to her “granddogs,” then knitted tuxedos for them to wear. She spent most afternoons sitting at my bedside sharing news from the world outside my house. When I finally recovered enough to walk to the living room couch on my own, she brought me coffee in my favorite mug to celebrate."
Beaudry eventually got better, but her husband never did. One fine day, when she heard his phone buzzing, she went to check if it was a message from a mutual friend since they both never had passcodes on their phones. "'I can’t wait to hold you in my arms again,' the text read. A much younger woman’s name popped up on the screen."
That's when she realized her husband was cheating on her. She immediately confided in her mother-in-law who was first alarmed. "Then she reached for my hand with the same empathy she always had for me."
For over a year, they tried to make their marriage work, but Beaudry knew she just had to leave. However, she just wasn't ready to lose her mother-in-law. "With her downcast eyes and sad expression, my mother-in-law was also grieving the end of my marriage to her son. Sometimes, she tried to convince me to stay. I wondered if she would still want to spend time with me after the divorce."
"I could live without my ex, but I wasn’t sure I could live without the woman who had become such a close friend over the years. I would grieve her bright smile and the way she lit up every room she entered at least as much as I grieved my marriage," shared Beaudry.
On the first Valentine's day after her divorce, when Beaudry was unpacking some of her books, she heard a knock on her door. She opened it, only to find her ex-mother-in-law.
“For my daughter,” she said, handing Beaudry a Tupperware container of homemade sushi and squeezing her hand.
"Many Valentine’s Days later, I’ve forgotten the heart-shaped boxes of candy and the Hallmark cards my ex-husband once gave me. True love is homemade sushi rolled with a twinge of sadness. It’s choosing friendship and connection even while nursing a broken heart."
Love is not always between two people in a relationship. Love comes in all shapes and sizes, and in Beaudry's case, it comes in the form of empathy, tight hand squeezes and homemade sushi from her friend and ex-mother-in-law!
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | IndiaPix | IndiaPicture