In three month’s time, three friends have lost a parent.
Somehow, that expression has always seemed strange to me as it seems better used to describe a child losing a parent in a crowd, panicking and crying for a minute and then finding them again. When we refer to the death of a loved one as losing that loved one, it negates the permanency of the situation. The implication of losing something is that it might ultimately be found. But in death, the loved one is not returning. And as much we can find comfort in our faith and rejoice in the promises of heaven of one day being together again, the death of a parent is one of those life moments you deny will ever happen even as a part of you understands it eventually will.
Because no matter how old you are, you are the child and they are the parent. Our words for them may change over the years. Da-da and Ma-ma become Mommy and Daddy which ultimately might morph into mom and dad, or mother and father. But while labels change, the role they play in our lives never completely changes.
We are their child.
We are someone’s child.
True, the rest of the world might recognize us as full-grown, competent adults, perhaps even answering to the labels of mom or dad ourselves; but to somebody somewhere, we are the child, the one they care for and love with an unconditional love. They’re our parents.
No matter how imperfect we are –or how imperfect our parents are--- there is a love that’s a love that forever defines what love is for us. There is a connection that connects us beyond genetic make-up and hereditary traits.
Maybe that’s it: we’ve always known we’ve had our mom or dad’s eyes, nose, mouth –but as we get older we come to realize we also have something so much more meaningful –we have their heart. And that is something we never lose.
Even after they’re gone.