My father died two years today.
Last year my sister and I went to the hospital where he spent his last five months. I wanted to be there before I had to be there, to let the ripples calm down. This year, Arlo is playing a concert locally, so she’s out.
My brother couldn’t even come out the day my mother died. Standing beside her body, his wife said that the kids have school tomorrow and he was gone.
Distance is supposed to help you see your life in context, allowing the emotion to subside.
For me, distance ends up revealing the amount of emotion I had to put aside to do the work that needed to be done for my family. It’s like the aftermath of a great flood; the water subsides and reveals the scope of the devastation.
It also reveals the scope of damage left on my siblings, unable to do their family duty in a responsible and gracious way. They both show the scars of growing up in a loving but emotionally disconnected family.
Two years of isolation after a lifetime of taking care of my parents from a very young age really has shown up how much I missed using the smarts and energy that I was given for a broader purpose, how much I gave to keep others safe and as happy as possible.
I’m proud of what I did. The amount of loss though, is tough.
At a “Mourning Tea,” a pagan ceremony of remembrance before Samhain , I got to speak about my experience, something I really haven’t got to do much.
I mourn not for my parents, who had a good long life, with lots of “one more good days.”
I mourn for the part of me that went with them, the years and years, the massive amounts of energy, and all the things that I had to say no to so that I could take care of them from a very young age.
When you take care of children you are investing in a future that will grow to outlast you. When you take care of elders, you are paying a price that will never be returned to you in this lifetime. It is the right thing to do, sure, valuable and honourable, but at a high cost.
Life is loss. My parents had someone to make sure that they had one more good day, right up until the time that there were no more days left. I don’t have that same kind of support.
Two years, today. Many more years than that before.