To get to my age and have both my parents still living is a gift I never took for granted. But it was not until my Dad's death last week that the true impact of my good fortune really hit home. I have spent a good deal of my adulthood talking about the death of my daughter and the loss of my future that event represented to me, but I am now feeling what many others have felt before me -- a sense of losing my past.
I believe it is wrong to compare losses or try to debate which one is "worse," so I won't even go there. Pain is pain, and when you are hurting, it doesn't matter what the cause is, it hurts. It also doesn't matter whether someone has felt a similar pain before you or how many blessings the life that is lost may have brought you. During those moments of grief, it hurts bad.
To be honest, I thought I was somewhat prepared for this loss, and to a degree maybe I was. A parent's death fits more into the scheme of how life evolves so I guess that from that standpoint it was something I knew would likely happen at some point. What I did not anticipate is the emptiness that comes from knowing that someone you have counted on your whole life is no longer a phone call away. My Dad's death came after a brief illness, but we did know the last week of his life that he was dying, so we had some time to bring closure. It was a treasured time that I did everything in my power to avoid, because I did not want to be confronted with having to say goodbye. Now that it's over and I can look back, I know it was the right thing for me to do and I'm glad the decision was not totally left to fate.
Rather than ramble on, I will just say that even after all my talking and preaching about the importance of "being there" and the lessons I tell others Kathleen's death taught me, I still did a lot of the same avoiding I did 25 years ago. I could even get real down on myself for that, but instead I am going to concentrate on the fact that, in the end, I stepped outside my comfort zone and did what I knew I would regret not doing. That feels good, and I have Kathleen to thank.
The lessons just keep on coming............