Grief is an asshole.
I'll just lay it out there.
I'm not one of those people who will sugarcoat things and tell you that everything is going to be okay. I'm not a spin doctor, I'm not a sunshine blower. I don't buy the company line about how everything happens for a reason, and God only gives you as much as you can handle.
If that was true, no one would ever commit suicide and I wouldn't have spent half an hour hyperventilating in a grocery store bathroom this weekend.
Word to the wise: don't say shit like that to me.
Honest. I'll probably smile and nod, or at least to try and maintain some sense of public decorum, but I'll really want to yell and throw things.
Sometimes shit happens for no particular reason to otherwise very good people.
And I've diverted from what I was intending to write about already....
What we are here to talk about is what happens when you lose a parent.
I know. Fun, right? I have to warn you though, my brutally honest self is going to say some things that you aren't going to like in the next few paragraphs. So if you are lucky enough to walk the earth with two living parents who you can mostly tolerate and have a good relationship with, this won't make sense. And you'll probably think I am an asshole. Which is fine.
Those of you who have lost a parent, or both, or walk the earth with living parent(s) with whom you have a dysfunctional relationship with will, I assume, be nodding in agreement at least in part here.
Me? I lost my father over two years ago. My mom doesn't have much time left, but our relationship hasn't exactly been a parent/child one in a long time. I don't know how to describe it, but those words don't seem to fit. In many ways, I lost both my parents at once.
When you lose a parent, whether by death or by other circumstances that remove them from your life, you will have this sudden epiphany of being orphaned. I don't mean in the little red-headed girl way, I mean in the holy shit there really isn't anyone left to take care of me anymore and I have to actually grow all the way the hell up because I don't have a choice.
There is a huge sense of solitude that comes with that. Even if you never needed your parents once you left home, even if you never called in a favor, even if you never relied on them...they were still there. Until they aren't. And once they are gone, they are gone.
No fall backs, no calls for advice, no favors, nothing. Gone.
Yeah, you still have other family members, but it's not the same.
I didn't really feel like I was actually grown up completely until I lost my father. Which, when I think about it, doesn't make all that much sense since I was the one primarily taking care of him at the end. I should have felt the weight of that maturity before then, and perhaps I did, but not in the same irreversible way that happened after he was gone.
For almost all parents, literally up until the moment of their death, no matter how much help they need, they still thought of you as their child. And as their child, you knew nothing. You were naive. You needed to be protected. You needed shielded. They knew this. They kept things from you. They didn't tell you this or that.
Even if it's all bullshit. Even if the parent/child relationship flipped years before then. Even if you've been the one taking care of them. Even if you've actually become the one protecting them.
Then one day they are gone and you go from being the kid that no one listened to, confided in, told anything to because you were just the kid to the parent-less adult who has to figure all of it out now. Without them.
Another bizarre thing that happens is that people start telling you stories about your now-gone parent. Sure, some of them are anecdotal and funny, but some of them are going to be things you would rather not know. Trust me on this one.
At some point, even if you had the most Rockwellian family, you're going to start looking back on your childhood with a different set of lenses. You're going to see your past with a new perspective. You're going to wonder why some things happened the way they did, though you'll probably never get an answer. You'll understand some things more, others less.
In some ways, you're going to look upon them with kinder eyes, now that you may have a fuller view of what they actually dealt with. In others, a more critical eye, once some details are brought to your attention.
Some puzzles will be completed, but for each one that starts to come into clearer focus, you'll probably be opening up a brand new box only to find that there are pieces missing.
I'll be the first to admit that there are a lot of missing pieces in my story, there are a lot of things that will never make sense. I guess that's part of this forced maturity that comes with losing a parent...that you just have to accept everything.
The good, the bad, the ugly. All of it.
You have to accept it.
Doesn't mean you have to like it.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
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