“Don't go where I can't follow…”
Sam: “Mr. Frodo, wake up...
Don't leave me here alone.
Don't go where I can't follow... “
Last night I saw this quote posted on my daughter’s wall, along with other favorite quotes of hers. But suddenly, this one, which I have seen many times before, hit me so hard, that I felt it squeeze my heart and not let go.
This is what my Mom feels about losing my Dad. They were married 62 years, and though my Dad was lost to her for years before his death, they were only apart for the last ten months. She saw him at least three times a week, and he seemed to always recognize her on some level.
It broke her heart to see him this way and she often felt frustrated with not being able to talk and reach the man she knew for so long and who was now gone.
She says she wants to die and she is waiting for him to come for her. My sisters and I grow impatient with this and it is upsetting to our children. We don’t want to hear it and it truly doesn’t help her to voice these thoughts. But suddenly, last night, I understood.
I don’t know what it is like to be 90. I don’t know what it is like to lose all the people I have known, though I have lost many who have been important to me, and whom I loved.
I don’t know what it is like to not be able to do what I could formerly do and move slower and be unsteady without a walker. I know what I hope I will be like, but who can be sure of how we will feel 40 years in the future?
We want her to be happy. We want her to enjoy her life now as much as possible. We want her to move on and we grow impatient.
But, I finally understand. The heart squeeze I felt last night made me think of everyone I have ever lost, and everyone it would hurt to lose.
I wanted to cry thinking how I would feel if my husband died and I was here, on earth, without him.
What would I feel like if I lost my sisters? My Mom has now suffered many of these things.
Many women and men have. I have now caught a glimpse of the sadness and the ache they feel. My ache for my father is different. It is painful, but different.
Part of the feeling that overcame me last night is the feeling of sadness I always get when I leave Michigan and people I love. We were there for the weekend, and it is always hard to leave. The drive is the transition that helps at the same time that it adds to the ache. Five hours away is five hours away.
As usual, I look for the lesson, the take-away, the thing that will help me. I must always remind myself to enjoy the present. The not-so-little gifts of laughing and hugs and talking. The sharing and the unspoken gestures of closeness and love. The gift that friends and family give just by being there, with me, at the moment they are with me.
Because, at some time, they will go where I cannot follow. Now I want to cry again.
Chris Crompton said "Hi Diana,
I loved this piece you wrote. Would you mind if I shared it with our Morning Coffee group (our bereavement group)?
Diana responded with "Chris, Thank you for writing and of course, please use the article with your group. I am sure they would appreciate the fact that they are not alone. I am working through some of my grief by writing, and I always hope that my writing will help others."
Barb said "Diane, This really hit home for me as the death anniversaries of my beloved grandmother, my mother-in-law, favorite cousin, proud grandfather from Italy, and my sweet, fun-loving father all come crashing in over the next two weeks. I miss them terribly and have been reminiscing with joy and gratitude about the great times we have shared over their lifetimes. I am most sad for my son, who at 15, has no grandparents or few older living relatives, to share that “big family” experience I so enjoyed through to my adulthood. I do share the stories with him, though, so that he will have some family legacy, and we have worked hard to keep our families close, but we could never duplicate the weekly Sunday dinners at grandma’s (mandatory!), or the huge pack of cousins who you felt were more like your brothers and sisters because you saw them almost every day. Grief is something we do work through, and it never stops…thanks for sharing your heart so readily so others can realize they are not alone."
Diana responded with "Thank you Barb for sharing that. Grief is a very strange thing, and it sometimes takes me by surprise. It does help so much to know that I am not alone."