Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Was One of THEM

When I was in my twenties (AKA part of my life when I was young and stupid), my father passed away. When he died, my mom was 49, (49 is old, right? Or so I thought back then.)  I figured after a year she'd be over it.  I mean, my life continued on the way I had planned, wouldn't hers?  When she wasn't over it in one year, I thought maybe I was wrong, she needed a few more years and she would be happy again.  A few years later, she seemed happy, so I figured I was right!  It just takes a few years and she’s over it.  Good for Mom!  (Did I mention that I was young and stupid at the time?)

Little did I know!  I hate to admit it, but I was probably one of those clueless dumb-asses who told people stupid things like, "At least he's not suffering anymore".   

I could not have been more wrong!!  However, it wasn’t until I became a widow myself, at 45, that I understood the depth and complexity of what she was feeling.  When my dad died, I lost my dad.  I was sad, upset and missed him terribly.  Who was going to help me pick out my next car?  Change the oil?  Take my car to inspection?  I didn’t even know where the inspection station was.  My dad made me feel safe and secure, and gave me a reason to hold onto my girlhood just a little bit longer. 

Twenty years later, I still miss my dad, A LOT.  But despite the fact that he was gone, my life went on like normal.  I finally did grow up, and I found the inspection station.  I got married, had children, got a mortgage and a job.  Even though some little things about my life changed, nothing about the course of my life had changed.

It’s not the same when you lose a spouse.  Anyone who has lost a spouse knows that the whole course of your life changes, whether you want it to or not.  You watch all the plans you made for your joint future go up in smoke.  I couldn’t see it in my mother when my father died.  I really and truly thought that she “got over it”.

I guess this gives me more of a sense of why when I talk about losing Bobby, that people think it is OK to say, “I know how you feel.  I lost my mom/dad/sibling/grandparent/dog.”  (Yes, an acquaintance at work compared my loss to the loss of her dog.)  And I won’t argue that these are losses, absolutely, because I still do miss my dad and my grandma very, very much.  But losing a spouse is a completely different experience that cannot be compared to any other loss, nor fully comprehended unless it actually happens to him/her. 

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