To close my Five Days of Gratitude series on this mom blog, I’m going to list a very special person indeed: my other mother.

I’ve talked with countless women over the years who cannot stand their mother-in-law. They clash for a variety of reasons, usually having to do with that one person who brought them together: their husband/son.

But I absolutely adore my mother-in-law. She’s never once blamed me for taking her son away – even though I totally did. I’m the reason we live 3,000 miles apart.

Instead, she’s welcomed me with open arms from the very beginning. She’s shared stories only a mother could share about when her sons were little troublemakers – laughing over all the things they broke, crying over the pets they loved, remembering all the little things that are the most important things.

I always knew she was brave and strong, but I never knew just how brave and strong until last year, when one of her two children died from complications of spina bifida. She didn’t shatter, as I’m sure I would have under the same circumstances. And she not only held herself together, she reached out and held everyone else together too.

She’s an amazing person, and I am thankful that she is my family – and my friend.