Losing a parent

Lately I seem to have come into contact with several people who have a parent that has died or is dying, seemingly before their time. I guess there is no such thing as dying before your time, but as a child you grow up just assuming that your parents will die of old age when you are middle aged yourself. That seems to be becoming less and less common these days.

The idea of losing mum or dad any time soon is just incomprehendable to me. I have lost people close to me, but this is in a whole different ball park. I remember earlier this year when Les was killed, I was shocked at how much it affected me. It seemed significantly more painful than the loss of my grandparents. Even though he was a pet, it was more acutely painful than any loss I had suffered, because he was so much a part of my day to day life.

As are my parents.

Mum and dad live a couple of kms up the road and I see them at least once a week and talk to them pretty much every day. They are fantastic. My biggest supporters and close friends. Never in the 3 years that we have lived so close have they shown up unannounced. They respect our privacy but are always there if we need them.

I have noticed that the dynamic of our relationship is changing slightly as they get older. There are times when I feel really protective of them. That is a reminder of their mortality and it upsets me. Last year dad had a cancer scare and my life stopped for a couple of days. The fear that I felt was greater than any emotion I had experienced before or have since.

My father lost his father while he was at university. One of my vivid childhood memories is of the first time I saw dad cry. He was telling me that he regretted that his father never got to meet me. Back then the concept scared me.

But no way near as much as it does now.

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