Not just physically, but emotionally?
Many of my friends are losing their parents. Or are sitting at their bedsides in the hospital. And I feel for them.
But at the same time, I find myself at a loss for words. I mean ... I feel their loss on a visceral level. Honestly, I do. I WANT to be able to offer the words that will dry their tears, and make them see through this current darkness. I WANT to offer that. But …
But … at the same time, I'm jealous. Very jealous.
I'm jealous because they were able to actually have parents; they were able to experience having "mom and dad", in whatever incarnation (divorced, never divorced, etc.) into their 30's, 40's, and 50's.
And that's why I'm jealous - they had what I could never have. They have experienced what I could never experience.
Please don't get me wrong: Dad was amazing. He was my bulwark, he was Father and Mother combined. And for that ... I'm eternally grateful. (C'mon, he was my POPS for christsakes ... ) Even though he’s been gone for a few years, he awes me still, even to this day.
From kindergarten through now, most (if not all) of my friends, never experienced the loss of "mom" or "dad", and I felt they always looked at me as "other". Some of them experienced divorce, and growing up in a single parent household, but in both cases, both parents were still alive and kicking. (How that played out is another thought, for another time.)
Looking back, I realize that my feelings were misplaced. They weren't looking at me as other - they were looking at me with mixed views, they were looking at me through their own lens. Many times, their looks showed the fact that they were scared; deep-down to the marrow of their bones, scared. Scared because I was living out one of their worst phobias, scared because I embodied their terror: that of losing a parent. ("There but for the grace of god ... ")
My self perceived "other" truly wasn’t pity on their part. Not really. It was fear.
For many years, their fear morphed into my hate. I hated the fact that they pitied me. Hated the fact that they kept their distance, as though losing a parent to the unknowable "death" was contagious. Then?
Well, then I blamed them. But now?
Now, now I understand.
As I watch so, SO many of my friends sit by their parents bedside ... I no longer feel hate.
I feel fear.
Fear that I can’t be there for them in the way that they need.
Fear that I can’t be there for them in the way that they want me to be there.
Fear that I will let them down. Because after all, I HAVE been there, and I HAVE done that.
Then … when friends and relations said, “It’s really hard right now, but it WILL get easier …” Honestly? I thought they were full of shit. After a while, I saw their wisdom.
Now … when I find myself repeating those same words, I feel their truth.
And I can’t fully explain to my friends the long-term truth of those words without feeling like a hypocrite.
I was in the same place they are. Truly, I understand what they are going through. How can I tell them that, “no, really, I AM here for you”, without mouthing some meaningless platitudes, or clichés?
I know that death is just part of the circle of life, but knowing that doesn't erase the hurt that follows it.
Other than showing my support through my actions, no words that I can say will help. But I know this …
…that later, be that days, months, or years, they will get it.
And for that? I will still be sad. Not only for them. But for myself.
And mostly, for all of us.
Personally, I'm trying to move away from the concept of grief, and move towards the concept of celebration. Celebration of the life we were able to share, no matter how long or short.
And I also know this: that my concept of celebration isn't wanted right now, but I know that it will. Someday.
Until then, let's commemorate the life we knew. The life we know.
And the life we hope to live.