I’m heading over to my parents’ house today. I haven’t been there in two weeks, and that’s the longest I’ve been away from their house in years.
When my Dad got sick, I made sure not to miss a week. Many of us gathered at the house on Sundays anyway, so visits were easy to plan. Pretty soon, I found myself making a weekday trip as well, just to check in and see what I could do. Dad often had a task waiting for me – clean out his electric razor with the little air compressor downstairs, empty the dehumidifier, show him something on the computer, take out the trash. Often, we just had lunch or coffee together. I would chat with my Mom about whatever was going on in the greater family, talk local politics with my Dad, assure myself they were well and head home.
The sicker Dad got, the more frequent my visits became, until for the last few months of his life I was there daily.
When he died, I kept up my Sunday visits with Mom. I saw her once during the week as well, then twice, then three or four times. During the last week of her life my sisters and I lived there, each of us finding a spot to sleep; none of us sleeping much at all.
When Mom died, I still went over on Sundays to be with my family.
But last Sunday, I just needed to stay away. I’ve been struggling with my loss – it doesn’t get easier right away, you know, it actually gets harder for a while.
But, this morning I’m heading over again. And, I’m actually nervous about it. I’ve been so sad this week, that for a while I thought it was because I missed last Sunday’s visit. But now I think my problem is that I haven’t been able to wallow in my sadness. I want to crawl under the covers for three days and do nothing but cry and eat ice cream and potato chips. But I’m a Mom and a teacher so there is no time for that. Would it make me feel better anyway?
When I go to my Mom’s house today, I’ll be cleaning up her things, sorting through memories. It’s been a blessing to have those memories stirred, and to have my sisters and brothers there to share them. But it’s also been exhausting and I come home longing for that blanket and ice cream. I don’t know how my Mom ever survived the loss of her own parents when she had all of us demanding attention from her, preventing her from mourning the way she wanted. I wish she was here to advise me.