I am not an expert on grief.
Rather, I am a student of grief.
Grieving the loss of parents is all so personal.
Almost too personal really.
Meaning … it feels like I’m a member of a society that dare not share its experience, for fear. Not because it’s against the rules, but more so because we don’t want anyone to know about this until they absolutely must.
What I am finding out in today’s lessons, is that the most shocking part about all of this, besides the shockingness of it all … Is the depth of my attachment to my parents, not just as parents, but as people and friends.
See, growing up, I was not the doted-on only daughter in a sea of beastly boys. I am number 4 of 5 siblings, and often other matters would take over the household narrative.
I wouldn’t go as far to say that I was ignored. I was just, well, expected to figure out a lot of stuff on my own.
So that is what I did, and I took on the motto: Try, try and try again.
I worked. I educated myself. I travelled. I fell in love with scoundrels. I dealt with my entire life entirely on my own path.
In between, I’d stop in on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but never to weight my parents with my highway stories.
It just wasn’t our thing.
That’s not to say that I don’t know my parents, or don’t adore them. I did and do.
My Dad with his Boston University education, international travelling life and tailored suits … who spoke with an accent that was a mix between an Irish Kennedy and Fred Astaire British.
And my Mum with her porcelain-face and fine jewelry and fancy dresses, with a sophistication that came from a Charleston upbringing and a God-given intelligence from birth.
They were proper. But they were wild too.
The day after their wedding? Yeah, they drove into Washington D.C. in the middle of a blizzard. Ten months into their marriage? Yeah, they were parents to my brother Joe. Seven years in and we were a family of seven living in Gerrards Cross, England, and going to the Royal Albert Hall in a camper van.
I mean, I always felt that my parents loved me, they just didn’t mind much over me. They never asked, and I never told.
12 years ago, for some reason, we three forged an alliance, and the stories and sharing flowed.
My Mum shared that she would have changed a few of her own paths, had she known she could, and that she only learnt were possible from watching me.
My Dad got into a routine to ring me up for a chat, with what became his signature, and much missed, greeting “Hello my daughter, this is your father speaking. Say Pal, how ya doin?”
I know I will profoundly grieve for those two the rest of my time. And I am still learning how to navigate that without being so overcome by it, or being emotionally insensitive.
Sometimes I think I’ve got it.
Then yesterday evening’s rant with my friend about my unresponsive selfish brothers, proved I’m not quite there. I mean, who am I to say that these last 5 months, my brothers have not been attending this same school that I now seem to live in?
And as I get it right. I will rejoice. And when I get it wrong. I will do what I have always done … I will try, try … then try again.