I am doing my very best to remember the Buddhist exercise that encourages us to treat each soul as you would if you knew it was their very last day on earth. But it's hard when the other soul isn't treating you the same way.
My mother in law died last year. She was the glue, the conscience, the patience and the forgiveness. For her and for the good man I married, I am swallowing the words I want to say about a deep and painful miscommunication among family members. My husband's family operates very differently from my family of origin. My family by marriage wounds with silences and by withdrawing their speech and their person. I'm more used to the way my original family handles conflict and disagreement. We climb into the ring and talk and rage and cry and talk some more until the water is once again running clear.
My mother-in-law loved flowers. And she loved church. For the two Sundays bracketing her birthday, my husband made large altar arrangements in her honor. He rose at daybreak and went down to the flower district to choose his blooms and greens. When he came back home he spread them over our dining table and then quietly, meditatively began arranging them into stunning, artful designs that his mother had taught him when he was still a teen. His patient labor was a beautiful, tender thing.