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Doing the right thing is rarely an easy feat.  Now multiply the difficulty factor exponentially when the person trying to accomplish doing the right thing is a scared, confused teenager faced with a life altering decision.  When I first found out my daughter-in-law had given birth when she was only fifteen years old, I truly admired her for having the courage to put her child up for adoption.  That decision is never an easy one to make and I know she's always wondered whether or not she did the right thing.  Knowing she had a child out there somewhere has always eaten at her.  With each birthday, she remembered the beautiful moment that had touched her life and with each birthday she reiterated a promise she had made to both herself and her baby.  They say time heals all wounds, but in her case all time seemed to do was to widen the empty spot in her heart she tried desperately to conceal from people. Each time she passed a little girl roughly her daughter's age she would wonder if she was looking at the bundle of joy she once held. 

Many years later she met and married my son. As my daughter-in-law grew older and attempted to start a family with my son, what she had feared for so long seemed to come true.  Getting pregnant a second time wasn't an easy task.  They tried numerous fertility treatments until their funds ran out.  Then it happened!  She beamed as she told everyone that she and my son were pregnant.  She finally felt she could exhale and look towards the future once again.  She really hadn't been damned!  Shortly after finding out she was pregnant, she had an ultrasound done which revealed an ectopic pregnancy, a dangerous complication that can be life-threatening for the mother.  She was immediately admitted to the hospital where the procedure to end the pregnancy was performed.  Not only was the pregnancy terminated, but she had to have one of her fallopian tubes removed as well.  Needless to say, my heart ached for both her and my son.  With a heavy heart, they moved forward not knowing what the future had in store for them.

About a year after the ectopic pregnancy more tragedy struck when my daughter-in-law lost her mother to a sudden unforeseen illness.  It seemed her whole world was crashing in around her and she fell into a deep despair not knowing where to turn or who to turn towards because she didn't know who she would lose next.  It had been three years earlier when she lost her father to a long illness that slowly erased the "larger than life" man he was always seen as being.  Both her parents were considered young by today's standards where it's not uncommon for people to live well into their 90's.  Long terminal illnesses are hard on a family because they have to watch a once vibrant loved one wither away, but unlike a sudden death, a long illness does allow a family time to say good-bye and to accept an end will eventually come.  For my daughter-in-law being a nurse has been such a blessing in many ways, but at times especially when accepting that some things are out of her control and nothing can be done to change the outcome being a nurse has been a curse.  Now parentless, her desire to find her daughter grew stronger.  She set the ball in motion not knowing what was awaiting her at the end of her journey.  As she put one foot in front of the other pushing herself towards finding out what fate had in store for her, the overpowering need to know steered her every move.

Not many people can truly validate a decision like the one she made when she was fifteen.  Not many people can actually see that they did the right thing.  Most people spend a lifetime hoping and wanting, but most people never know for sure.  Most people spend that lifetime wondering and always having an empty spot in their heart.  This isn't the case for my daughter-in-law.  Not only did she find her daughter, but her daughter wanted to find her as well.  Their reunion has been one in which a real life fairytale can be written.  Not only have they reunited, but they are presently working towards building a good relationship.  As they get to know each other, both of them are amazed at how many things they have in common and how many personality traits they share.  My daughter-in-law now knows that she did the right thing many years ago because the life her daughter grew up having is a life she would have never been able to give her.  She is grateful to the people who became her daughter's mother and father.  They adopted, loved and raised a baby girl who grew into being a truly beautiful woman both inside and out.  They nurtured and taught her how to be a strong, determined woman who can and will do great things with her life. My daughter-in-law's aim isn't to try to take anyone's place, but to merely have a place, however small in her daughter's life.  Her recent journey and the place that she has found in her daughter's life is one that has filled her heart with a much needed joy...a joy she has waited 24 years to have.  Since all good fairytales end the same way, I'll end this one with a heartfelt "and they lived happily ever after..."

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