To my estranged in-laws,

It’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. For whatever reason, I have woken while your beautiful child sleeps beside me. I call him my built-in furnace because he is always so warm. I wrap my arm around his body and I am surprised that in his sleep, his fingers still grab mine and they intertwine. These little moments, to me they are what love is.

I am so thankful; I’m thankful that you brought this man into the world. I’m thankful he chose me to be his spouse, and that he continues to work hard each day to better himself for me and our family.

You cross my mind as I lie there and consider how hard my husband has worked at bettering himself. I wish with all my heart you could see him now. He is a hard worker on the job, and at home. He is the first person to admit his faults, quick to apologize and consider the weight of his actions. He still sees a therapist so that he can overcome the weight of what has been handed down to him and avoid giving the same chains to the next generation.

I imagine that he is everything you could have ever hoped he’d be. I consider this because this is my hope for our children, that they will be half as awesome as he is. He is successful at work, in his parenting, in our marriage, and in creating an amazing life for us all. Yet you are missing every step of it.

You might have loved him exceptionally when he was created, born and growing. For whatever reason, you have given up on knowing him, me and our children but I need you to know that I won’t give up on him. I won’t walk away the way you have.

I will love him so much that it will make up the difference. He doesn’t have you now, and hopefully that will someday change, and I will always encourage that because I long for what’s best for my husband, even if you don’t or won’t.

But if you never come back around, know that I am strong. I will take your weakness and make it my strength. I will love your child, my spouse, so much that the void of an estranged parent lessens over time. I will sit beside him in every counseling session that he needs. I will tell him when I see the damage of your emotional trauma playing out in his life. I will keep him forward minded.

My promise isn’t to you, it’s to him. I promised on my wedding day to your child that I would love him, support him, care for him, and cheer him on, and I plan to do exactly that.

I wish I had you in the cheering section, too. I know my husband loves you deeply and that this isn’t what he had in mind when he imagined his adult relationship with his parent, but I am so proud of him for not letting this break him.

You cannot break us. Your void will not shatter our family because we won’t allow it.

I admit, it did briefly. A parent is never supposed to walk away from a child; it’s just not the plan, and when it does happen, it is one of the most painful experiences. I know that because I feel it, too, even though we are related by marriage only. The pain of losing you was so hard.

The pain of living continuously without you is still hard.

But, I am strong.

Your son is strong.

Together, we will be strong. Together we will do differently for our children. Together, we will heal and do whatever is necessary to not let this hiccup destroy our lives.

So, as I drift back to sleep cuddled to this warm, broken and yet determined man, I want to thank you. He wouldn’t be here without you, and that is the single greatest gift I have received.

I just wish you could see that, too. 

Your daughter-in-law.

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Leslie Deane-Mountjoy

Leslie Deane-Mountjoy is trying hard to persue Jesus more and more everyday. She loves her husband and four kids, writing, and chocolate. She has overcome a lot of pain and wants desperately to encourage others to grow in their faith, and accept the healing God offers.