A Letter to the Mother-in-Law and Father-in-Law I'll Never Have

Dear Celene & Hugh,

These words have been in the back of my mind for months now, so I'm sorry that it look me so long to finally get them out. I know that you will never read this letter in an official sense, but I feel in the deepest part of my heart that you can still hear me. And as a writer, I've always been better at putting my feelings into letters, so bear with me for just a few minutes while I talk about your son, my soon-to-be-husband.

You see, the last year of our lives has been a mix of the happiest and saddest days. We got engaged in August, and Celene, you passed away in October. Hugh, it's so hard to believe that you've been gone for 13 years, but the stories I hear from your 10 children (seriously, 10) make me feel like I know you, and that's something I will always be grateful for. But Celene, you were in my life for five and a half wonderful years. In that time — those late nights watching murder mystery shows, the endless cups of tea, the Sunday dinners — you became like a second mom to me. While many people in my life constantly complained about their significant other's parents, I was so grateful to just have one of them . . . and to love you as much as I did, and still do.

I promise to never, ever let you leave us, despite the fact that you're not here.

I know that you both know your son very well (you're his parents, after all), and that you continue to watch over him together. You were there for every scraped knee, missed homework assignment, and movie night. You proudly sat at his graduations, dressed him up in funny outfits for picture day, and, from what I hear, always let him curse the way he does now (I love it, to be honest). But every time I think about the future — our upcoming wedding day, having our first child, needing help when buying him a birthday gift — the hole in my heart seems to get just a little bit bigger. His past is wrapped up entirely in you, and it breaks my heart that we have to build a future together without you there.

When you get married, the deal is that you inherit the other person's family whether you like them or not. And it's almost a fashionable thing to complain about your in-laws (they're around too much, my mother-in-law is so invasive, can they knock?!), but having you two as my second set of parents would have brought nothing but more love and joy to my life. And you know why I'm so sure? Because of your son. You raised such an incredible man. The kind of man that still called you "darling" and "love" whenever he called home, Celene. The kind of man that fiercely respects women because of you, Hugh. The kind of man that has made our life together so wonderful because of the example you two set for him — his parents that used to fall asleep holding hands every night.

And I wish you were here so that I could tell you all of this in person, dance with you at our wedding, and call you for advice once we start a family (seriously, 10 kids? How. Did. You. Do. That.), but the fact that you're not hits me on a daily basis. You're Mom and Dad No. 2 for me, and I want you to know that I promise to never, ever let you leave us, despite the fact that you're not here. Because as heartbroken as we are by your absence, I can still always feel you around . . . something I don't ever plan on complaining about.

Your Daughter-in-Law