January 2024: Remembering Maria

         It has been a while I posted a blog. Sorry about that, but I have been mulling over my next new story as well as being involved in all the hoopla of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

          I decided to dedicate this blog to my daughter-in-law, Maria Bittner, who passed away one year ago on New Year’s Eve day at the young age of 54. I will miss her forever. My blog this month is a repeat of the dedication I wrote for Maria that was read at her funeral. She had a huge funeral with a packed sanctuary and a lovely talk by my son about how much he loved her. The following is my personal memorial to Maria that the minister read at the funeral. Rest in Peace, Maria. I will miss you forever. Rosanne

          Throughout our lifetimes we all end up attending funerals. The cycle of life makes it impossible not to. But most of us expect the funeral to be for an old person, whether our own relative or someone else’s. 


Expected. We manage our way through those expected ones. Much as we love and will miss that person, we are relatively prepared for his or her death.


Then comes the unexpected, and it hits like a blow from a baseball bat. There is always the “why?” of it. Here I am 78 years old and Maria was only 54. Why her? I was blessed to live through my own sons turning into men, my grandsons turning into men, and now I have been ultra-blessed to be here for my great-grandson. I might get to see him grow into a young man, too, but that is up to God. The fact remains that Maria won’t get to see her grandson or her step-grandchildren become adults. She won’t get to enjoy their children. 


          I have decided on the “why?” of it. She was one of the most loving women I have known, and perhaps my son and my grandsons will remember her patience and her unselfish caring for them and their little ones. Perhaps her memory will help them be good fathers and grandfathers, and will help the women who knew her be better mothers and grandmothers. Perhaps Maria was sent into my son and grandsons’ lives simply to help them through the tough years of learning to live in a blended family and to leave a glow in their lives … the glow of warmth and love that will always be with them, not in the flesh, but in the spirit. 

If we believe that Jesus Christ is always among us, and that angels are always among us, then we have to believe that the spirits of certain special people are also among us. After all, death is only in the flesh. I can name a few of my own loved ones who have passed on who I am sure are always with me. Some people just plain can’t help leaving a “forever” memory that doesn’t fade with time. Maria is one of those. We were as different as the sun and the moon. Other than when I would go to a gathering of friends at her and Brock’s home, we never did anything together socially because I was the extrovert and Maria was the stay-at-home introvert. I could give you a long list of our personality differences, but that doesn’t matter. I just loved that woman, and she loved me. Although she was step-mom to my grandsons rather than mom, she loved them just like her own. She had total love, honor and respect for her husband’s family, and there was nothing fake about it. You could sense it, feel it. You knew it was real.


Brock told me Maria often said she didn’t really want to live long enough to have to go to our funerals. What a thing to say. And she did tell me once that she did not believe she would live to be an old woman. I don’t know why she felt that way, but she seemed to sense that was exactly how it would be. The morning of the day she died I took her some things she needed and felt bad that she wouldn’t be able to go to the belated family Christmas that was to take place later. As bad as she felt, she made me take the gifts she had for the baby, and for my husband before I left. She was thinking about them. I figured Brock would take her to the hospital and she would get better and next year we would have a normal Christmas.

       But when I walked out the door, something struck me, and I will never forget it. A little voice told me I might not see her again. I feel so guilty for leaving, but don’t we all think it’s not possible that a healthy 54-year-old woman would die just a few hours later? I told myself that, and I left, glad that Brock was going to take her to the hospital. We would all celebrate and eat the ham I had in the oven and then Brock would take some home for Maria.


We can all look back and think, “I should have done this, or that.” But God will have His way, and no matter what our decisions, His will always rules. So I tell myself not to feel guilty, because Maria Bittner died exactly like she wanted to die, a happy, happy woman who loved much and lived a giving, unselfish life, and without a jealous bone in her body. She loved sunsets, and once told Brock that enjoying a campfire and watching the sunset with him was like heaven.


She is there now, and she died before she had to bear the death of other loved ones. Some of us have the strength for that, and some of us don’t. Maria would rather watch over us from a better place, where she is perfectly happy to wait for us to come to her. I will be so glad to see her again, and until then, I will miss her as much as any other special loved one who has gone before me. She was not my daughter-in-law. She was my daughter.




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