My BIL got remarried this weekend. To an awesome woman who I love and respect. She has been unofficially part of our family since before I was part of the family.
I am super excited for them both. They’re both awesome people and deserve happiness and love. And I love having another sister-in-love.
And right before the wedding, I started thinking about his last wife.
And I mean absolutely no disrespect to the bride and groom. Seriously. None.
But I loved my former SIL. We did everything together. She watched my girls while I worked. Kept them when I traveled for work. Showed up for “someone special” days at school. Ate lunch at school with them. Went to their class parties. Helped plan birthday parties. Had them over for “just because” sleepovers.
We had girls nights out. And in. We went shopping. Went to walmart together. Watched Twilight. Shared books. Stayed up late and shared dreams, fears, hopes, worries…
Laughed. Cried. Fought. Made up. She stayed my friend when Rob and I would take one of our many “breaks”.
She let me call her Jen instead of Jennifer. She was my girls’ Aunt Jennifer. Their second mom.
She was my best friend…forever.
Until she wasn’t.
Until the lying.
Until her words were always slurred.
Until she became someone I was afraid to leave my girls with.
Until addiction consumed her.
And tore us apart.
I miss having her in my life. I miss having that person I could call at the last minute to help with my girls birthday parties.
I. Miss. Her. Every. Day.
But she isn’t my best friend anymore. She isn’t even “her” anymore. She isn’t “Jen”.
I don’t know her now. I know that her actions now are not hers, but her addiction.
Her addiction. And everything that comes with it. Does not make me stop loving her. It does not make me stop missing her. Or wanting her to find happiness in something other than a bottle of pills.
Losing her broke my heart. Knowing how she is living now breaks it all over again like it’s fresh. New.
It’s not fresh. Not new. It’s been years now since her addiction consumed her. Took her from me. From my girls. From our whole extended family.
Addiction is not unfamiliar to our family. It is painfully and devastatingly familiar. Common. Rampant.
Addiction turns people we love in to people we don’t recognize.
Addiction has taken the life of one of my SIL’s.
Broken the hearts of my girls who don’t understand why their Aunt Jennifer…Aunt Terri…countless friends and family…”leave them”…
Because they can’t quite grasp the difference between the person they love and the behavior addiction manifests as.
All they know is two people who loved them. Watched them. Did things with them. Don’t anymore.
And I know they miss them as much as I do.
And I know they feel abandoned. Betrayed. Left.
I listen as they talk about things they used to do. With people they will never stop loving.
I hear the sadness. I try to talk it out with them.
But as tears threaten to fall. As their eyes well up.
They say instead. It’s ok mom. It’s no big deal mom. I don’t care.
And I hug them and say. It’s ok. I know you miss Aunt Jennifer. Aunt Terri. I miss them too. They just can’t be in our lives right now.
But never. Never doubt that they love you. And if they knew how. They would stop. And they would tell you they didn’t mean to leave you. Ever.
And we would tell them. We love you. We never meant to leave you either.
You have never and will never leave our hearts. Ever.
Addiction sucks. We hate the addiction. We love the addicted.
Best. Friends. Forever.