It has been nearly three years since my mother died, and a year and a half since my father died. If you remember Hurricane Sandy from years past, you might have done what the Crankee Yankee and I did; we drove right up to Hampton Beach. There we stood with dozens of others, laughing at how strong the winds were. You could actually lean back and not fall; the winds were that forceful.
Losing my parents was like having that strong wind suddenly stop; you knew immediately that you were going to fall.
All the necessary things that need to be done after a death keep you going for quite a while. It becomes sort of a temporary job; writing notes to family and friends, thanking them for flowers and cards and phone calls. There were so many who loved my parents, and I deeply appreciated their love and support.
There was so much to do when each of them died, and that alone kept me from falling apart. But when it was all over, I felt out of place and time. Grief is a mixed bag; I would find myself laughing hysterically over something I read and wished so much I could call Mom and share it with her. When Dad moved in with us, I baked endless chocolate chip cookies for him. It was the one “naughty” thing he loved. I haven’t made those cookies since he died.
I found a great therapist who helped me understand and work through my grief. Going for therapy never negates the love and support we get from family and friends. Therapy is just another avenue where we can get an impartial view on what we are going through. With the therapy, I was able to see my parents more clearly than I had before. Most of all, I was finally secure in the knowledge that they both were more than ready to go; fearlessly and happily.
These days I realize that my grief is still there; just not so present. But more than that, I realize that I am really all right. I have my one remaining relative left, Mom’s favorite brother, whom I have always called “Unkie.” I have the Crankee Yankee; my rock and my North star. I have my friends; new and old, whom I love deeply. Even one of our five cats, Pookie, is the one who comes to me when I feel a bit weepy.
But here’s the best thing: grief does fade. The tears come less often. Any guilt, real or imagined, begins to dissipate. Life goes on, and the deaths we have lived through remind us to show our love, our compassion, our understanding and our warmth to all in our lives. We never know when our time will come, but hopefully just before that last breath, I believe and hope with all my heart that it will be joyous.