I vividly remember the moment that my mom sat down and told us that she had been diagnosed with brain tumors. I distinctly recall the myriad of emotions and thoughts that struck me in that moment. Denial not the least of these. Even though I had time to process the reality that mom was leaving this earth, there was nothing that could truly prepare my heart for the reality of life without this wonderful woman. The unexpected death of my father, however, was a blow that I still find myself reeling from. Losing ones parents as an adult is a larger blow than losing them while still a child, I think because, in adulthood mom and dad had become more than just parents, they were actually friends. And I consider my dad one of my closest friends. I have been struggling these past months to truly accept the fact that he is gone, the feelings bring about an emptiness that I just can’t handle right now. My dad was the one person who could see into my soul and could call me out in the most effective way. He taught me what responsibility is, what perseverance means, how important goals and reaching them are, but more than that he taught me about unconditional love. Both my parents exuded unconditional love for each and every one of us. The years brought some unique situations into my life, some of which I didn’t always choose wisely, yet they were there to pick me up when I felt lost and a failure. More often than I’d like to admit over the past couple of years when I would reach out to dad he was there to brush me off and encourage me with love when he knew I needed tenderness, and with a more direct conversation when he knew I was being unreasonable. He was also there to push me and aggravate me when I needed to be pushed. I hated that.
I know that grief runs its course in many different ways and stages, but it never fully goes away. And really, I don’t want it to. I think of mom every day and her gentle voice, always ready to listen and give me advice, I remember the day we stood on the porch at the house when I was feeling very weak and insecure over my situation, and she stood there and told me that I was amazing. Mom, this incredible woman, called me amazing. Those words are what pulled me off of the path of discouragement that I had begun to run down and caused me to fight back and make the best of an unpleasant situation. I think of mom every day and it hurts, but at the same time it makes me proud to have had a mom I miss this much.
With dad gone the grief is even deeper. Sometimes it feels as if a vice is squeezing my heart and it physically hurts. I know as an adult we no longer need to look at our parents as a compass, but again, dad became one of my closest friends. Not having a husband or significant person in my life, he was the one I called to share exciting news with. Sometime I just called because I needed to cry and he would let me get it all out before challenging me to stop emoting and take the next step. He was the one I called when I found myself missing mom more than usual. He was who I shared some crazy conspiracy theories and future preparation ideas and plans. Dad was my friend and I miss my friend. Dad was my spiritual leader and I miss his wisdom and knowledge.
When I see friends, or even strangers with their mom or dad, I find myself envious that their parents are so much older than mine and they are still here. I find myself remembering with sadness that mom wasn’t at my daughter’s wedding, and that neither of them will be at any other weddings.
Their deaths have forever changed me and have affected how I look at the world. In an odd way I think it has made me a more compassionate and patient person, maybe I am a better parent to my kids. I sure hope so. I find myself aware at every moment of what memories can mean to my kids and how I can impact their lives while I am still here. I never doubted how much mom and dad loved me. I want my kids to know, without question how much they are loved. And when I am gone, the memories we make together now, and what I teach and instill in them now, will be my legacy.
That the Lord will allow my legacy to be even a portion of mom and dad’s, would be an honor.