Last night, a very dear friend of mines mother passed away. Unfortunately, I am familiar with the mind-numbing feeling of losing a parent. It is unlike anything that I have ever felt or could adequately describe. The days following my father’s death, I recall feeling as if my soul were floating over my body, rendering me unable to speak, shout, or connect with the stream of individuals who were offering me their condolences. A protruding silence took over my whole being. I could not run or hide from this silence, nor from my feeling of disconnection. The reality of my loss was everywhere I turned; it was in the faces of my family and close friends, colleagues at work and random strangers who could glean the grief in my eyes. It was there as soon as I awoke, and when I managed to close my eyes to drift off into sleep, it peppered my dreams. While not as raw as the first days, three years later, the pain of losing my father is sometimes as painful as the second I learned of his death. I suspect this pain will always be there, securely protected by layers of scar tissue.
The loss of a parent is not just a physical loss, but in a sense it is a loss of structure. Mother, father, brother, sister, aunts, uncles, etc., these are the foundational building blocks of what we come to understand is the ideal. An intact immediate and extended family are the stuff of Hallmark cards and holiday movies, and regardless of whether we fit into this ideal family construct, it is pervasive enough to invade our psyche. Like most people (myself included), my friend did not always experience this ideal, but in her mother she found the comfort, love, and joy that rivals a 1000 Hallmark cards and holiday movies. Nothing will ever compare to, nor could ever replace that deep of a bond. And it is with the memories of this bond that my dear friend must manage to keep barreling through life, holding onto the love and the light that her mother was in her life. My hope is that I can serve as a source of comfort for her as she walks through this valley.