January 2, 2012. A day I’ll never forget.
Today marks 3 years since the death of my mother-in-law Arlene. There’s been so many countless moments that I’ve wished she could have been a part of. Graduating nursing school, the release of Jonathan’s CD in her honor, the birth of my sons, the holidays, family traditions and a million little things that make me miss her. She was such a character and she left her imprint on everthing. Seriously, everything.
As the family sorted through her belongings, I was afraid of asking for the one thing I wanted. A ring. The ring. Let me explain.
Arlene and I were close. But it wasn’t always that way.
When Jonathan and I first started dating, she didn’t really know me. After all, I wasn’t in the family’s circle of friends. She and my father-in-law BigTimeBruce were very involved and super friendly at church and since Jonathan was a pretty hot commodity, naturally the ladies flocked to his family as well.
I, on the other hand, felt that if God truly did say I’d marry him, then He’d somehow work it out. There would be absolutely no need for me to try to “get in” with Mom and Dad first. Therefore, my “avoid him like the plague” method worked fantastically for me. Plus, I was terrified of boys… but I digress.
So Jonathan and I started our journey together in September of 2007, which wasn’t an easy one. Being very close with his family, he sought his parent’s opinions about me. Arlene’s first reaction wasn’t so good. She LOVED Jonathan and wanted the best for him. She could list off plenty of girls that she knew personally that would be better suited for him, like the girls that led Bible studies or those who had influence in the church. She wrestled with the thought of him ending up with some crazypants girl like me who came outta nowhere. Were her prayers for a good wife in vain? Was crazypants gonna steer him away from the LoRd?
Arlene was a praying woman. Instead of clinging to her own thoughts about who he should be with, she brought her concerns to God. No, let’s say she straight up duked it out with the LoRd. This was a VERY big issue and she needed an answer, PRONTO!
A few weeks of wrestling, she felt like the LoRd gave her the answer. He told her something so simple, to look at her ring. A ring her grandparents gave her with her initials, AJ, Arlene Jermolowicz. She never had a middle name so only those two letters were inscribed on the face of this ring. At the time, more people at the church knew me as “AJ” than Amy. She felt that was her answer. She didn’t understand it or see it in me at the time but she would submit to His authority and welcome me in her heart and home.
And she did. She graciously gave me the heart of her son and took a backseat in his life. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for her. Over time, we became friends. And when she got sick, I took care of her. She told me this story of jhow God showed her that I was the one for Jonathan.
I wanted this ring so badly but knew I had no rights to it. Her daughter, Becky asked me one day if I would want it. They knew the significance of this ring and and generously gave it to me. And that, my friends, is how the story goes.
I wear this ring often, at special family events, through most of the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, on birthdays. But I wish she was here to wear it herself. I wish she could see the woman I’ve become. The girl that stole the heart of her son, now grown up. I wish she could meet my boys, Joram and Jethro who would absolutely adore her. I wish she could teach me how to make her rediculous pot roast or watch an episode of Judge Judy together. I wish.
But for now, I treasure this ring. It reminds me of her. How she listened to His voice. It brings me back to a time when people called me AJ. And all the questions, confusion, and hurt that surrounded me. Yet I’m left with God’s faithfulness in leading two people together, the memories of a loved one, and this ring.
In His Grip,