Hello Peers! As I think you have figured out by now, we’re adults. We’re in our 30’s, maybe we’re 40, we pay for things like life insurance and make dinner reservations for 5:30pm. This is happening. You are now an adult and the next stop is senior citizen so you might as well enjoy it.
We are at this interesting point in adulthood though, aren’t we? We aren’t young enough to find it new and fun anymore. The excitement of Living On My Own and Picking Out An Apartment and Being Able to Rent A Car or Looking Down My Nose At Teenagers has worn off. Long ago. We’re settled IN to adulthood with no end in sight, it’s all adult stuff from here on out. We know how to do all the adult things, we just don’t find it that thrilling anymore because BILLS! Am I right?
We are also, interestingly, too old to wish we were younger. I don’t wish I was 22 and neither do you. Sure we had abs and 1-day hangovers and zero gray hairs. But we were bumbling idiots with an over-inflated sense of how very little we understand in this world. Now we are calculating idiots with a finely tuned sense of how very little we understand in this world. And that feels less embarrassing and more enjoyable for the most part.
But we’re also at the stage where looking forward in time is a little scarier than it was 10 years ago, and a little less certain. Some of the harder parts about adulthood are ahead of us, or have already come upon us. We’re aging, people we love are aging, our kids are getting older, the world is getting hotter, Donald Trump is an issue that we have to concern ourselves with, I’m responsible for all these real-life things.
Recently, a some people I am close to each lost a parent. It’s painful, of course, to see someone you hold dear to lose someone they love dearly because their pain is so palpable. So real. And you can’t really help them. You want to, but you can’t, beyond the just standing there, nudging them a little and saying…this fucking sucks.
The pain of witnessing that kind of loss also hurts for selfish reasons. Because it makes you afraid. Of your own life being shaken in such a way. Of your own loss. Of the inevitability of having to feel their pain in a more literal way. You want to hold your friend’s hand while you shield your own heart, but there aren’t enough hands in the world for that.
We are young enough that losing a parent is, of course, tragic and sometimes somewhat unexpected. But we are old enough that we are supposed to act like adults about it. And that’s a very hard thing to do because while you parents might have even more gray hair than you do and you might have a mortgage, to some degree you are always their little baby and they are always the grown up. Even after you’ve grown up.
When we lose someone, like my friends lost their parents, we reflect on the love we had with them and the time we shared. My darling Liz did so with incredible grace and humor at her mother’s memorial and here on her blog. If you want to know what kind of amazing friends I have, just take that tiny peek into Liz’s heart and you’ll know. Her words moved me to tears and aggravated my fears and made me want to hop a flight to Dublin. Because that’s where she lives. And I needed a hug.
It’s important, of course, to say all the ways we love someone when someone is alive if you can. Like I know Liz did. Like I try to.
But the things we say after they are gone also have a special meaning. Because it’s the time when it’s ok to sugar coat and dust off the rose colored goggles. Because even if THEY knew how you felt, it’s the time to let everyone else have tiny glimpse of what that person was to YOU. To your heart. To your life. To share the best of the best of the things because in the end, that’s what matters. It’s what always mattered.
Chances are someone giving my eulogy won’t say ‘Lane was quite smart, liked to read…but man she was a BITCH sometimes amIright?!?’ I mean, I won’t know either way but in advance I say HOW DARE YOU! But yes, that is a true and fair statement. I’m dead though! Have some respect!
I have these terrifying flashes of fear and angst when I think of my parents aging and eventually dying. Nothing, I’m sure, compared to how they feel about it (hi guys!!!!!), but still, this is my blog so let’s make this about me for a minute. I think about what I would say if I were asked to speak, and then I ask myself ‘Have I Said It To Them Yet?’ And usually I have because I’m known for saying ALL my feelings, but sometimes I remind them. They are getting old I don’t want them forgetting.
eulogy spoilers ahead
I’d probably talk about this really awful memory I have about a time my sister and I mean-girled my dad into taking off the socks he was wearing with sandals on a family vacation. I actually almost started crying as I type that, that’s how much I still regret it. I think what ASSHOLES we were. My dad could/should have said ‘Oh really? Are my socks bothering you on this VACATION that I am PAYING for and also by the way Lane you are in the midst of a DECADE long awkward phase you ungrateful wretch!’ He didn’t though. That’s what made it so much sadder. When my sister and I talk in our private code, a ‘socks and sandals’ moments refers to anything where you were a complete and utter dickhead for no reason and you feel like shit about it. The reason I will tell this, though, is because it shows one of the BEST ever things about my dad in the he has NO MEMORY of this incident. Or if he does, he chooses not to lord it over us. Can you imagine that kind of restraint? We TRAUMATIZED ourselves with our bad behavior. Sometimes we still try to apologize for it. We re-tell the story thinking it will jog his memory and he mostly says ‘shrug’ and we go ‘DAD! We love you we are so sorry we acted that way!’ and he goes ‘I know I know, I love you too! What’s for dinner?’ The GRACE of that man and his terrible memory, I’ll always love him so much for that. He wants to move forward, he wants to be happy, he wants us to be happy, he wants us to forgive ourselves for all the things before they even happen.
I’d probably talk about how when I was in kindergarten my parents put me in the morning class. And since they were both at work when school let out, I took the city bus to my day care. I imagine sending a 5 year old as timid as I was on public transportation and think DAMN to live in 1986 was to be ALIVE! I got on the bus outside of school, I got off the bus a few feet from my daycare. Realistically, not a big deal. And you know what? My mom had a career and she loved it and was a fucking powerhouse so on the bus you go, child! I remember thinking she was a badass for that. I learned later, however, that my mom followed the bus. Like, pretty much every day. She got in her car, watched me get on the bus, followed the bus, and watched me get off. Like a very loving stalker. When I first found this out, I asked what I thought was the obvious question to mom ‘If you were going to follow me, why not just drive me?’ And she said because she knew I could do it and she wanted me to know too. And really what she was saying was that she wanted me to be brave, but that she’d never let anything happen to me. She wanted me to do things myself, but I’m never really alone. She was going to let me grow up, but I’d never get away. And I’ve never wanted to.
I’m going to try my best, as I continue to become even MORE of an adult with just INSANE amounts of gray hair, to be really graceful about it. Like just to be fine with knowing what a Roth-IRA is and to be fine with being called ‘m’am’ (!!!) and to be fine with thinking 10pm is CRAZY late to be outside of my house for any reason. These are all just facts, anyway. It’s not as though I have a choice.
The other parts, though, the life cycle stuff, is going to be harder to accept. It’s natural and it’s inevitable but it’s painful and heartbreaking and eventually all us adults will just be standing near each other during these moments, nudging, saying this fucking sucks. And that’s really, I think, all we’ll ever be able to do about it. But it’s not as though I have a choice.