My siblings and I had the honor of having our parents in our lives for a very, very long time. They truly were always there for us, and in particular, for my two sons, who always knew a life with their grandparents around. My parents revered education, vowing that we all would go to college, which neither of them ever did but we all were privileged to complete. They were loving, supportive, and completely family oriented. The memories of family trips and gatherings and celebrations burn quite vividly, infused with laughter and smiles and love.
But now they are both gone. My dad died in 2005, less than two months before his 93rd birthday, and thankfully, his time in the hospital was brief and his passing peaceful. I wish my mom had had the same. But her recent time in the hospital, following complications of surgery, stretched for weeks, accompanied by a bevy of procedures to help with infections and more. In the end, the infections and age proved too much even for a fighter like my mom. She passed away September 20, three weeks before her 93rd birthday.
They did not go too soon, for which I am thankful, but their being gone leaves a hole that echoes with sadness. Parents are "supposed" to go first, and so we prepare ourselves for that, but none of us can really be prepared for the finality of their leaving. Since my mom was alive when my dad died, the circle was not closed, the generation above was still here. But now that my mom has passed, there is a layer to our lives that is gone as well.
I am grateful that the love always stays.