MORTALITY DISCLAIMER: Before you read what's ahead please know that I do not put any more “weight” or degree of sadness on anyone’s loss over another. I steered clear of mentioning children because to me, as great as my losses have been in my life, those who have suffered THAT particular loss need their own forum. From what I understand from those who have walked that path, comfort comes in waves that never really reach the shore, and I respect that, and pray to God every day to watch over my blessings, and those families who have treaded in unimaginable waters.
Every January and February, this eerie, peaceless, Tower of Terror drop feeling comes over me. To say it’s just winter doldrums is a little dramatic. It’s a spin-off of the feelings I had when my parents died … eight years apart, but the time of year mirrored each other. It’s been 22 years since my mother passed, and 15 since my dad died. Each is the equivalent of one of my births, first Devin (1995) and Valentina (2002), each born around the time of my parents’ deaths, cementing in my soul that God gives you joy even when there is grief. He gave me two new babies at a time when I needed them. But, the wounds are still healing.
A good friend recently found herself in the once unthinkable position of caring for aging, ailing father whose health and time are extremely compromised. I’ve been there, twice, and lost both parents by the time I was 35. And, not to be callous to those who lost parents at a much younger juncture, like my brilliant childhood friend who is now a star pediatrician, who lost her mother, my mother’s best friend, when he was 17.
I find myself wallowing in anger for the last twenty-two years since I lost my mother. That extended into my father’s death, and I’ve been admittedly hateful at those now and in the years before who have parents. I really have no use for aging parent stories, having lost my mother at 61, and my father, oddly enough did slightly better even with Marlboro lungs at 76. I really could care less to hear, see, or know anything about how your parents interact with your kids, how they pick them up at school, buy them Christmas gifts and attend basketball games and concerts. I had none of that. My father was able for a short while, but even then, he was dead in the box by the time my oldest was six.
I tried to be compassionate and understanding towards those who did enjoy the hugs and love of their parents even as adults, and I asked God to show mercy on me and give me the gusto and fervor I needed to be understanding and smile at the grandparent and kid stories, or, the restraint not to proverbially punch the shit out of someone when they complained about their parent because they had too many ailments or didn’t know when to shut up.
But, this past week, God came to me and tapped me on the shoulder, twice. I realized that my job was outlined 22 years ago, and that was to help others get through grief. Grief is not only born through death, it is born though watching a loved one fail and dissolve into something unimaginable. My experience would be cultivated over 20 plus years of being pissed off at the world, but here is what I learned: