How it Feels to Lose a Step-Parent


On May 20, I received a phone call from my dad that I had not been expecting so soon. I thought my step-mom had months longer to live.  

It turns out, she didn’t. Her cancer had come back really aggressive this time, and she didn’t have the six months longer that we thought. It tore my heart up to hear what my dad was saying to me. It did not seem real. What could I do for him, right then, right that second? I just sat there and cried on the phone with him. He had lost the love of his life. They had been together for 31 years. It really just did not seem real. It seemed they would always be together. They had faced trials before and come through them, so why not cancer? People beat it every day! Why not them? Why couldn’t they beat it? God, hear our cries. We are desperate for a touch from you.

I called my dad every day for a while. It seemed the normal thing to do, to check on him. He is in another city, and this had happened so suddenly. He had lots of support there, but it wasn’t the same to me as me being physically present. However, our son was about to graduate high school. We were kind of under a time crunch.

I will tell you what it feels like. It feels horrible. I wish I had been PRESENT, I wish I had been ACTIVE, I just wish I had been THERE, through the horrible face of cancer. All I could do was apologize to my dad for being absent. Yes, I prayed for her, but I wish I had been through the raw ugliness of it all with them. I guess I was too fearful to stand up and do it. I’m ashamed to admit that, but it is true. I just couldn’t or wouldn’t face cancer. I am ashamed. I’m grateful my dad forgave me. 

His wife was very loved, by so many. We just weren’t that close. But, my regret is that I hadn’t taken the time to know her more. She was one of the sweetest people you would ever meet, always thinking about others, always putting others ahead of herself. I remember after she died, I went back and looked at her last post on Facebook. She was just thanking Jesus for the great weather and that she could enjoy being outside that day, just to enjoy it.  That is the type of person she was, just thankful for the smallest thing.  

She and Dad had plans to make my son’s graduation lunch the week after she passed, and she was really looking forward to it. Neither of them knew at the time that she would already be gone. Her strength had simply failed her.  

In closing, one of the most special things my dad told me was that they had put together a memory box, a keepsake, to put in the vault with her ashes. He put in her favorite wallet with all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren’s pictures. My Dad had given her a dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day, and they had put aside half a dozen and dried them because they knew they wanted to include them in the vault when the time came. My dad actually dried both halves so he would still have the memory of their last Valentine’s Day together. This was a special woman, and everyone around her knew it. May you rest peacefully in the arms of Jesus now, sweet Mary. You will be missed.   


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An avid collector of black tole trays, you could find Stephanie at any antique shop on any given day. She has a passion for collecting art; after taking art history in college, this girl was never the same! She loves to daydream, read, eat lunch with friends, and most importantly, spend time with her family. She is very organized and detail oriented. She does not consider herself to be a creative person, but has to push herself when faced with the challenge of doing things outside her comfort zone. And, she laughs! She loves seeing the humor in the smallest things and thinks we should all have a good laugh every day. Dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis since 2009, her biggest supporters are her precious husband of 24 years, David, and her two wonderful children, Jane and Gib. The sensitivity they bring to her is not overlooked, but humbly appreciated. She cannot begin to describe all that they have done for her, but just know that she thinks she has the best care in the world. They are truly golden. Her favorite Bible verse is Exodus 14:14, "The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still." She depends on the Lord for daily strength and knows the battle is not hers to fight alone.