Losing a parent is one of life’s most cruel events and almost nothing can mitigate the pain.
When my beautiful mother died, at the young age of forty-two, from breast cancer which had metastasized to her bones, I felt enormous sadness but also a sense of relief. However, even today, many years later, I still feel guilty admitting that. I justify my reaction because she had been in excruciating, debilitating pain. I prayed for a peaceful end to her torment…that her suffering would stop.
I gave birth to my only child, a seven-pound, healthy daughter only fifteen days before my mother passed. Tragically she never saw her granddaughter. I did send her the hospital picture of my baby, but in those days, it was through “snail mail.” Fax machines and Face Time did not exist. Relatives who were with my mother at the end tell me she saw the picture and smiled, but quite frankly, I think they told me that just to make me feel better. As far as I know the real truth was that my mother was in a coma at the time of my daughter’s birth and to my knowledge, never awoke. I was twenty-one years old and with a baby to raise and no mother to rely on. It was a devastatingly lonely time.
Twenty-seven years after my mother died, my dad passed away unexpectedly. Unlike my mother’s painful end of life experience, his death was quick, for which I am eternally grateful, but the suddenness of it was horrific.
Now I am an orphan, and I’ve become the parent that my family relies on. It’s normal, I suppose, but heartbreaking none the less…the progression of time. It doesn’t matter how or when you lose a parent. It is earth-shattering and leaves you vulnerable and afraid. No matter how adult we seem, there is still a child inside us all.
In my book, Despicable Lies, Darcy and Danielle lose their father after a bout with pancreatic cancer. The girls are young women then, in their thirties, but are not prepared to be without him. They struggle with their loss and the death scene is touching. They had spent fifteen years apart, not speaking to each other because of cruel lies and misunderstandings. Finally, they reconcile at his death bed, but can never recapture the time lost. It’s a hurt they will carry with them forever.
The death of a parent is a terrible thing to endure. Somehow, one way or the other, we survive it, because we have to, and it’s the natural order of things. There is only one thing infinitely worse…the death of your child. (More about that later.)
Until my next inspiration…ciao