Not surprisingly or perhaps very much so, my parents. Their passing left a gash in my soul that pulls at heartaches everywhere. Conversely, death is not a topic favorite (even though it will touch each of us). But to write a follow up… Do I allow a flood of memories, surmise what it might have been like if they were still here, wonder if there was more I could have done?
How do I follow up with the people who gave me life, nurtured me through physical and emotional scars, loved my children like their own, and were there. Just there. It took losing them to understand the level of comfort provided by a phone call or visit. I didn’t know what I had. A sorry, however common, scenario.
I’m bereft. Of words. To explain. My emotions. The language of feeling is one we are largely non proficient in as a group. We go to great lengths to mask and suppress our emotions toward others, toward ourselves. We prefer logic. But either/or reactions are only partial answers, for which we receive only partial credit. There’s more work to be done.
Logic is neat. A meal eaten with a knife, fork and available napkin. Civil. Genteel. Clean. Unlike the hamburger dripping red juice, sauteed onions and melted cheddar. Messy. The vegetarian taco with ingredients that refuse to stay neatly tucked in the corn shell’s innards, spilling instead onto the corners of our mouths, plates and laps. Messy. Like life.
The follow up is continual, something I will consider, wrestle with, reconsider. There is no end for me while I live. They remain, with their memories, their words of advice and warnings, their genes. I am forever grateful for the privilege of having had them as parents. They were not rich, without fault or monotone. They were devoted, animated and passionate. When the end of their lives slid up to greet our present; they slowed down, relaxed, accepted. It took me longer. They were master teachers through this ride. Even when I didn’t think enough of them to listen. Foolish me. I don’t get a re-do.
But there is something I did that carries me. At the end, and years prior, I was there. Just there. To glance at, talk to, cry with, share. To give medicine, unwanted advice, do laundry, bring a pillow. The circle completes. It does so every generation. With every part of yourself, do the hard thing, and be there.