Author's Note: I still don't like to think about this subject but who really does?
The Day I Realized Parents Don't Live Forever
When I was a kid, it never even crossed my mind that my parents wouldn't be here one day. Like most, in my childhood days,I saw my parents as invincible, untouchable, protectors of the (and my) universe. My younger-than-most parents would live forever, right?
In my teens, I got my first dose of reality when a friend's mother passed away. Her mother died suddenly one evening of a heart problem. When I attended the wake, I felt as if I was playing a role in movie of the "supportive friend". It seemed to unreal to be real. During that evening, I put on a brave face and held my friend in my lap as she cried but my thoughts weren't about her mother they were about mine. Later that evening as I collapsed into the lap of my Mom, I cried for all that was lost that day. As my mother's arms encircled me, I was confident that my mother would always be there. In my still youthful innocence, I continued to believe in my parents' eternalness.
But, all things most come to an end. Over a year ago, as I attended the funeral of a friend's father, my innocence was finally surrendered. I watched my friend bury her father who was of the same generation as my parents. It hit me. One day, this horrible time would come for me. Morbidly, I thought of what I do and say but more importantly how I could go on without two of my most favorite people in the world. I grieved that day not only for my friend but for innocence lost.
In the past month, I have been reminded of mortality over and over again. From a childhood friend's father dying suddenly to a colleague's mother losing her battle to cancer, I was never more aware until my Dad was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. Like a hard smack in the face, I had to admit to myself that my otherwise invincible father is mortal -- a hard fact no Daddy's Little Girl wants to acknowledge. As my Dad sat next to me and said, "looks like I am ready for the boneyard." I told him, "we won't let that happen." I know I have no control over fate and destiny, but for that moment, and now as I type it, I believe it. Maybe I am burying my head in the proverbial sand but I need to believe in innocence.
As I look at my son, I am a tad bit jealous and happy at the same time because he has the sheer joy of not knowing the concept of life and death. However, I believe the emotion of fear has crept in. From time to time, he asks me the question, "will you protect me?" and my response is always, "I will protect you forever." I know now that there is no such thing as forever but I have decided, for the time being, to live vicariously through my son and believe that there is a forever.
This is an original post for NJ Moms Blog. You can find more writing by Jennifer at The Kamienski Chronicles.
Goodbye, Aunt Fran
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