Since deciding my mother in law would stay with us for the duration of her cancer treatment (chemotherapy and radiation), I've gotten two reactions:
1) What a kind thing to do!
2) You are crazy. Do you know how this will affect your marriage?
And to be honest, I'm not entirely comfortable with either reaction.
As far as caring for a sick family member, I don't think that it is above and beyond. It is simply the right thing to do. We have room, I am not currently working, and IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
The second reaction? Well, it kind of scares me. Why? Because of course I've had the same thought. Things like money put stress on a marriage. A HEALTHY family member living with you puts stress on a marriage. Truly, caring for an unwell person in your home is a HUGE TEST. On anyone.
Treatment started Monday. It's super intense for about six weeks. So far, spirits have been high and we haven't seen any adverse effects.
But I'm realistic. I know they are coming. She is scared. We all are. Of what comes next. Of what doesn't.
A few weeks ago, I was discussing this with my stepmother-in-law. She went through a similar situation about five years ago.
This is what she said:
"Even in all the sadness, there are so many gifts to be had during these times."
Every single second my mother in law is here, I know more and more she is right. The gift of each story she tells us of her life. Watching her read to my son on the couch in his jammies with his hair still damp from his bath. Going through her treasured jewelry box and hearing the story of how each piece came to her. Seeing my husband so gentle and kind with his mother.
All these things, they are gifts. There is so much love. There is so much hope.
I just had to look.