When a child loses their parents they are called orphans. Their parents no longer exist in this world and they are alone. Orphan is a label society gives to children, but not adults. What label do adults have when they have lost both of their parents? We have labels for many other things but not this one. Though it does seem silly to call an adult an orphan we still feel the need for some type of classification because our parents are no longer here. It’s a classification I never thought would come so early for me.
My beautiful, sweet mother lost her battle with Alzheimer’s last month. She was only 74. She was much too young to leave this world, by way of natural causes or otherwise. My father left us six years ago. He was only 70, also too young. It was difficult enough to lose him but I still had my mom. I still felt like I was someone’s child. Over the last few weeks I’ve felt like I’m kind of “not here”. I don’t really feel present. Going through the motions is probably an accurate description. I’m still trying to adjust to the fact that I will never again see either one of my parents in this life. I know they are both waiting for me….on the other side, but it’s not the same. They are not HERE. And here is where I wish they were.
Since my dad died there have been numerous times that I actually forgot he was no longer living. I would see something on the internet or learn about something that I wanted to tell him about and think “Oh, I’ll call Dad and tell him”. It takes me a few seconds to remember that I can’t do that anymore. This has happened so many times and it’s still happening, six years later. I even left my dad’s cell phone number programed into my cell phone. I can’t bring myself to erase it even though I know the number belongs to someone else now. Erasing Dad’s contact info in my phone is such an act of finality that I cannot bring myself to perform. I know the same thing will happen with my mom….forgetting that’s she’s gone. Her’s will be different though as the Alzheimer’s had robbed her of her ability to remember things, either correctly or even at all. When it will happen is when I want to tell her something about my kids. That was the basis of our conversations for the past year or so. She just couldn’t remember much of anything else…..but she remembered my kids when I would talk to her. That I will always, always be grateful for.
We celebrated my mom’s life last weekend at the church she had joined almost 20 years ago. We played a PowerPoint slideshow of pictures that showed her throughout her life. We sang “Amazing Grace” as the words seemed fitting for the journey that brought her into a church all those years ago. My Godmother spoke fondly and eloquently about her 50 year friendship with my mother. I also spoke about Mom, reading a three page eulogy I had written the week before. It is a mighty difficult task to summarize a person’s entire lifetime in a few, short paragraphs but someone I managed. I mustered up enough courage to stand before the small crowd in the church and deliver that speech. I hope my mother would be happy at the things I said about her. I meant every last word I spoke. In my life, I can tell you what the hardest things I’ve ever had to do were. I actually have a list of those things in my head. Reading that eulogy was one of them. It meant that things were now final, that Mom is really gone and she’s not coming back. It meant that my siblings and I are now alone….alone in the sense that we have no parents and never will again. That’s a label I wish we didn’t have….not just yet.