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The Dreaded Reality of Mortality

When I was young, I thought my parents would live forever – most kids do.  On occasion, the terrifying thought of death would cross my mind but it was always in the form of a car accident or a fire.  Never did it cross my mind that parents age, and in time, lose the abilities to do all the things they were once able to do:  Arthritis sets in, the mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be, etc.

A few years ago, my dad was having chest pains, in addition to a number of other health issues, and the doctors discovered he had a blocked artery and had to have a stent put in.  MY dad?  The guy who was once able to walk on his hands and do a back handspring with his eyes closed???  MY DAD??? Former NY State Champion of the Bar?  The same guy who could fix just about ANYTHING?  Holy smokes!  Talk about a wake up call!

Shortly thereafter, there was a noticeable decline (not anything major but still noticeable) in his memory. Some years later, my mother (his senior by 10 years) began to experience the same thing.  Additionally, both of them have arthritis in their knees, which no longer allows them to climb stairs.

My parents have always been very healthy, particularly my mother who has always been into holistic medicine and never smoked or drank in her life.  These changes just couldn’t be!  But there was no way around it.  Each day it became more obvious:  my parents are getting old, and what’s worse – EVERYBODY DIES.

It is part of my culture (on both sides of my family) to take care of each other.  Nursing homes are never an option unless absolutely necessary, ie. the person needs round the clock care.  I have always sworn my devotion to them, that when they were no longer able to completely care for themselves, I would never abandon them….and now it has begun.

Scheduling doctors appointments, taking over most of the housecleaning, writing reminder notes for everything, etc. has become a normal part of my daily routine – and yet it still doesn’t feel normal at all.  It scares the hell out of me and only emphasizes the reality that their time on this earth is limited, be it another 5 years or 15 – what’s it going to be like then???

As an avid music lover, my thoughts are often quieted by the way I interpret a song, which regardless of how many times I’ve heard it, can vary repeatedly depending on my mood.  This afternoon, as I was running some errands, I had parked the car and was ready to get out when one of my favorite tunes came on:  “Love Song” by Tesla.  I have so many memories tied to this song, but this time I sat and listened to the acoustic intro and really listened to the lyrics, for the thousandth time ; )

So you think that it’s over,
That your love has fin’lly reached the end.
Any time you call, night or day,
I’ll be right there for you if you need a friend.

It’s gonna take a little time.
Time is sure to mend your broken heart.
Don’t you even worry, pretty darlin’.
I know you’ll find love again. Yeah.

Chorus:
Love is all around you. Yeah
Love is knockin’ outside *YOUR* door.
Waitin’ for you is this love made just for two
Keep an open heart and you’ll find love again, I know.

Love is all around you.
Love is knockin’ outside **YOUR** door.
Waitin’ for you is this love made just for two
Keep an open heart and you’ll find love again, I know.

Clearly you can apply these lyrics to loneliness experienced after a breakup, but this time I thought of my parents and how devastated I will be when their time comes to leave me.  It has always been the absolute most heartbreaking, frightening thought that has ever crossed my mind, however, while I soaked in the lyrics I thought something different for the very first time:  losing anyone you love, especially your parents, is a trauma like no other.  Your entire role in life changes.  You’re no longer anyone’s “little girl” and it’s devastating.  All of sudden, your load in life seems to double because no matter what, your family is always there for you – that is, until they’re gone.  But this time I dissected these lyrics and realized that death is inevitable and when that time comes, my heart will probably feel empty for a very long time, but there will still be people around to help me through it…people for me to love and people who love ME:  my precious daughter, my (few) closest friends, and whatever family still remains at that point.  And they will ALWAYS be in my heart -ALWAYS.

“Love IS all around you. Keep an open heart and you’ll find love again, I—know—doo doo doo-doo-doo -I KNOW- doo doo doo doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, I KNOW- doo doo doo doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, mmm mmmmm…..”

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