A special thanks to guest blogger, Sarah Roberts Barker, on a tough topic. I am in the middle of a blog post about my mom, but Sarah’s writing and heartfelt sentiments cannot be improved upon. Many thanks, my friend.
Well, my mom has now been gone for a whole year, and I still miss her every single day. I would give anything for one more hug that’s a little too tight, or a phone call about a question I’ve already answered four times, or an email that is impossible to understand because there’s no punctuation.
“There are things we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn and people we can’t live without but have to let go.”
If you feel like reading a little more, here are some lessons I’ve learned after losing both parents just 18 months apart…
Take lots of pictures of them. And videos so you won’t forget the sound of their voice. These are now some of my greatest treasures and are the best way for the kids to know them. Be patient with them. They spent years during your childhood answering your endless questions about life and the world around you. Keep that in mind as you explain why they shouldn’t respond with their account number and PIN to any emails claiming to be from the bank… again.
Talk more about them. Remember, they had a life before you – find out about their childhood, their sports teams, their hobbies, their first job, and their first love. Better yet, get one of those memory books and write down some of their stories so you can share them with your kids someday. I got one for my mom that we were going to fill out together once she got out of the hospital – those blank pages still break my heart.
Forgive them for the things they did wrong. They’re not perfect? Neither are you. So maybe you should consider asking forgiveness for your own mistakes. Even for things that happened years ago. Apologize for when you opened that Christmas present two weeks early and ruined the surprise holiday trip to New York but blamed it on the neighbor.
Thank them for the things they did right. Let them know you appreciate their time and effort and sacrifices. Tell them how you loved swimming with the dolphins in Key West and can’t wait to take your own kids some day. And don’t forget the little things. Like how you enjoyed all those car rides to dance class even if it meant he had to listen to the Braves on the radio instead of watching it on TV.
Be kind to them, especially if you only have one parent left. Grief ebbs and flows so you might not realize when they are having a particularly hard day and your insensitivity can make it infinitely worse. They might call just because they need to have a conversation with someone other than the dogs. Or they might need a hug because it’s been weeks since they had any physical contact with anyone. So choose your words carefully and with love – you need to lean on each other as you struggle to move forward.
Answer the phone. Someday it won’t ring, and the silence will be deafening. My mom and I talked every day and now I know it still just wasn’t enough.