We’re all going to die.
So what are you going to do with the final days of the life you have?
Tomorrow comes quickly and so do your lifetime of tomorrows.
Why is it that the people who realize what is truly important in life are often the ones whose life has been cut short by terminal illness, who have had a near death experience, or who are witnessing a loved one pass on?
We make so many mistakes in our lives. When it comes to family, those seem to be the biggest ones, the ones we regret or the ones we hurry to remedy when the grim reaper comes calling.
The bitter truth is that as each day passes it is one step closer to no more hello’s, no more hugs, no more I love you’s, no more family dinners, no more playing, no more family arguments/ drama that we often, actually, get lessons from, no more memories.
My regret is not spending all the time I could with my parents when I was a teenager. At the time I didn’t think that those years would be my last decade with my mum and dad who passed within a year of each other when I was 23 years old. If I could just get some of those years back, or have been given hindsight, but that didn’t happen and I have to live having missed those opportunities to create more memories, to learn more from them, to show my appreciation for everything they had done for me. And, simply, more time to love each other.
I was an only child, and when my parents died I felt very alone. I did not have cousins or aunts and uncles or grandparents even, to provide me respite and comfort during my grief and panic and loneliness.
When I got married I made a conscious decision to have a large family. And that I did. I wanted to bring lives into the world who would have other people close to them, to support them, to rally for them, to love them.
The best laid plans……
My marriage ended, something I had not expected or anticipated as we loved each other tremendously. But we made mistakes and we grew apart, we got angry, we stopped communicating, the fairy tale ended. I was left, more or less, to raise my seven children, all under the age of 13. I did the best I could with the best of intentions. My children often reassured me that I was doing a good job. They often demonstrated their love for me. I thought we were o.k.
The best laid plans…..
It is one thing when you get divorced from your spouse.
It is quite another when your child divorces you.
In my case, two of my children left me.
This happened after they were married/living together and had children of their own, the lights of my life, my grandchildren. I miss them terribly. Piece by piece, I try to remember and absorb their essence deep into my soul where it cannot escape.
The reasons given were “It’s complicated” by one and just sudden, unprovoked silence by the other, and when I pushed repeatedly for an explanation, a brief note saying “our family was not his primary concern anymore and there would be no contact for the foreseeable future.”
What did I do wrong? I have no idea. Was I perfect? No. Did I harm my children? No. Was I a drug addict, neglectful parent, cruel, unkind, abusive, mean, a criminal? No.
But apparently, assumptions are made, realities built, stories told and retold until they crystallize into strange structures resembling truths.
Estrangement is called a hidden epidemic, that between parent and adult child. The parent do not want to talk about it openly because they assume people will blame them for doing something terribly wrong to cause their child to cut them out of their life and the lives of their grandchildren.
Dr. Joshua Coleman, a psychologist who specializes in family estrangement and the author of When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don’t Get Along – has much to say on the matter. “Society has a prejudice towards forgiving and healing … therefore there is a huge amount of shame involved in estrangement,” he says.
So the fearful looks whenever I tell people is perhaps because I embody what all parents dread – that their own children might also give up on forgiving and healing and take the high road. Or maybe it’s suspicion. “People often assume that a person who is estranged is not telling the whole story, or the whole truth, or assume they are concealing something terrible,” says Coleman.
What I cannot understand is how two people who were always so close could so suddenly be so far apart in every way.
What a waste of everyone’s life.
There is always hope. That is one certainty I continue to live in. I am not perfect; there’s no such thing as a normal family.We do our best in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
Like bereavement, it is, after all, a loss. And it’s a unique kind of loss: my son and daughter, granddaughters and grandson are breathing on the planet somewhere, I don’t even know where they are.
What has helped me the most through this is the support from other mothers who go through this and we all share the same feelings of sorrow, sadness, loss, of never being able to fix it or make it right, of often not knowing what we did that was so wrong we are not wanted in the lives of our children……it is about the only way I can get through this is knowing I am not alone in the deep abyss of maternal loss.
It’s been a gut-wrenching and heart-breaking walk, and the kind of gut-panic you feel when you lose sight of your child in a store or public setting for even a moment in time. I feel like there is a large portion of my heart that has been taken abruptly. I worry for their pain too. I know my children and I know they must have similar pain, even if it is too deep to feel right now.
I continually pray for God’s grace. And I pray that before we all come to the end of our lives, we are reunited, our family, so there are no regrets, so when our last tomorrow comes, we are not left wishing for yesterday.
Until next time…..cherish fabulous times together.
Sian Erith Thomson