My mother died not too long ago. My father followed soon after. They were both 93, had health concerns, and – according to each of them – had lived a good life and were ready to go. Their peaceful acceptance of this final life transition made a deep impression on me as I now contemplate my own later years.
My mother’s loss was bittersweet. There was sadness, because she was gone; yet this was softened by the outpourings of love and admiration from her many friends in this tightly-knit community. Their stories and reminiscences helped me see her through new eyes and appreciate her as someone other than “my mom”. Their words and hugs brought tears and – more importantly – a sense of peace and acceptance of her passing.
My father had announced on the day of my mother’s funeral that he wouldn’t be around much longer. True to his word, he died five months later. My experience was similar to what I had experienced with my mother’s passing, yet…different.
This time, I felt a heaviness of heart and a sense of finality and loss that I had not felt before. I was glad to hear stories of his life, receive hugs, and see him, too, with new eyes. I appreciated the many outpourings of love, but something Did. Not. Feel. Right.
And then it struck me. Not only was this about the death of my father – it also signified the end of my childhood!
I remember saying to my brother, “Well, it’s just the two of us now, kiddo: we are the grown-ups. And we have big shoes to fill.” The grown -ups? Can’t be! Surely I’m still that child who explored The Forest behind the house, climbed trees, rode endless hours on my bicycle, did homework…the same one who knew that her parents would surely always be there.
But things change. Time moves on. Children must one day take their place as the grown-ups, the elders, the Wise Ones.
Someday is now.