A little over a year ago when my mother in law passed a way, I was in New York with the kids and my husband called to let me know. No matter how aware we were that this was coming, we were still unprepared for the actual moment we learned she was really gone. My kids were being entertained by cousins in another room, so I sat down to take in the news. As my husband and I cried we felt a depth of pain we had never felt before. I told him that I can't believe that we have to go through this three more times. This is the way life is supposed to go and if we are lucky our parents live a long life and then we have to say goodbye. It doesn't ease the pain though. Loss hurts!
Together with his sisters, my husband is about to go through this pain again. My father in law has Parkinson's and when his wife died he began to rapidly decline. Over the last year there have many close calls, where my husband would get in the car and drive down to San Diego thinking it would be his last chance to spend time with his dad. He has been able to be with him week after week for a few days each time. Some visits he has been lucid and talkative. Other visits he hasn't done much more than sleep. The last few weeks though, it has become obvious that the end is near. Once again, my husband and his sisters surround the bed of their dying parent. I am not positive this time they will all be together for his final breath the way they were when their mom passed, but they have been able to be together for so much of this and that is a gift.
Each drive back to LA from San Diego is like a wave breaking at the shore -- it pulls a piece of my husband back with it. He comes home exhausted and emotionally spent. The time he spends with his siblings in the house they grew up in awakens more memories each time he is there. When he leaves and sees people outside in the world going about their day it becomes clearer that this amount of sadness he is living with is heavy. It reminds me of that drive we took to the hospital when I was in active labor. I saw people having coffee outside and didn't understand how they could just be so relaxed and normal, while I was literally exploding. In times of great sadness it is difficult to walk around while your heart and head are screaming and just pretend to be okay like everyone else.
My friend's sister is about to have a baby and she is past her due date. When I called my friend a few days ago to ask if there was any news, she said no and that she was on baby watch. I put down the phone and thought about the similarities and the differences we are both feeling while we wait. One of us for death and one of us for new life. When the real call actually comes in the reactions will hardly have any resemblance though. No matter how prepared we are to hear that someone we love is gone, it is still a kick to the gut. The finality, the goodbye, the knowledge that you will not lock eyes or arms with that person again is shocking. My father in law was the definition of a gentleman. He was smart, caring and loving. He was a successful engineer and a dedicated family man. We bonded over chocolate and all things Italian. I always learned something new from him. He always made me feel a welcome part of the family and I loved him. The world loses a good man when he goes, and he will be missed.