“I’m not ready.” That’s what he told me as we sat waiting for a table at J. Alexanders. We were surrounded by strangers who probably thought, “Ooh look at that couple. They’re both crying…they must be fighting.”
We weren’t fighting. We were instead facing a cold, stark fact. Bill’s dad was close to dying…we’d both just witnessed his current state, and we both knew he was to the point of no return.
Bill wasn’t ready to lose another parent, the second in ten short months. He wasn’t ready to face life without parents and grandparents. He wasn’t ready to let another loved one go.
We still aren’t eight days later.
But he did go. Very calmly and surrounded by a packed room of loved ones, he slipped away with a few last breaths. The very thing we all live in fear of, the very thing none of us will ever escape from, happened. Eight days later, it’s still hard to believe it happened.
The loss of one parent is excruciating. My mother passed suddenly when I was 35, and it left me empty inside. I wasn’t ready not to have a mother. Bill lost his mother in November, and I was thrust back into those emotions…even eleven years later. How do you live without a mother? I discovered quickly you can because you simply have no other choice.
But two parents? I’ve listened and watched, my wanna-be-writer’s mind that never ever really shuts down, absorbing the words of so many. Some say they felt like orphans when parents passed on, others stated it was a new feeling of responsibility when they were suddenly at the top of their living family tree. Others just nodded in understanding, having lived through it and understanding our weariness.
So now what? How does life continue in such an unwanted new fashion? Here’s all I can fathom:
-Life will continue, whether we really like it or not. Our job is to find the joy in the bad. Life is what you make it, that’s for sure.
-Cherish each day with your loved ones. (Don’t we hear that to the point that it almost becomes a weary cliché? Unfortunately, it’s blatantly true and nauseatingly hard to live with once the loved ones are gone. I learned that the hard way with my momma.)
-Enjoy today. Tomorrow may really kick you in the face.
-Life can suck. Life is gut-wrenchingly hard at times. But life is also wonderful and beautiful and warm.
-Find a great pair of big girl panties. You will need them often.
-Each loss makes me so thankful for what I have left. Each loss makes us grow (even when we’d rather stay babies and never grow up).
-This life is not forever. But there is a place that is forever. That gives me incredible hope.
I can’t help but think that all the loved ones that are gone…parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends…are just a step beyond what our human eyes can see, and they’re prodding us along. They’re nudging us into the next day, the next month or year. They’re that hidden strength that gets us through the hard times when we’d rather just pout or cry. They are our strength, and they’re waiting on us in the great forever.