Tuesday, March 16, 2010

20 years today

I can't quite believe that it was 20 years ago today that my parents died. The day is no different from any other day really but I've been thinking about this particular anniversary for a while now. I don't feel sad. At least sadness is not an overriding feeling I have- I'm generally content and when I think about how my life has turned out I feel happy and grateful. And when I think of Caitlin and Paddy I feel love, respect and pride.

I just get twinges of deep sadness when I think about the younger versions of myself, Caitlin and Paddy, and, especially now, Joseph, Isobel and Paddy's Jo too.

In general I think about mum and dad less often these days, but lately I've been thinking more about the actual day that our world fell apart. This invariably turns into the heartbreaking thought that it could happen to my own children. It almost paralyses me sometimes. Although, of course, I am not actually fearful of anything happening to us as I choose not to live with unnecessary and irrational fear of things that "could" happen.

Anyway, anniversaries just get you thinking a bit. Especially about all the people who have been so good to me and have in their own ways helped to fill the gaping hole left by the loss of my parents. Family, friends, teachers, colleagues and Steve and the boys. Of course that hole will never completely disappear.

But I've learned a lot of useful stuff along the way too. Make the most of what life throws at you. Hold those you love close and always be there for them. Life is too short to worry about things. We all have reserves of strength that we can tap into when we need to. Death and loss does not have to be the end of the world. That sort of thing. I've now also reached the point where I'm totally comfortable with my own philosophical thoughts on life and death, and even liberated by them.


Caitlin said...

Some thoughts:
I always think about the anniversary and this one seems like a milestone and has been on my mind. Twenty years seems such a long time and yet it can still feel like yesterday (or today!) I think of us then and cry for our sadness, but think of us now and smile. I feel a great sense of achievement. This helps with other losses, and when I ache for others who experience loss, I know, that they too, will be okay.
Experience has taught me that we all have the strength to cope with tragedy, even when we think we don’t. To do this we must allow room to cry as well as make room to laugh.
Life is short (no matter how long) and extremely precious. Seeing people I love die, reiterates this for me. It is slightly cruel- but not at all untrue- that experiencing loss makes you never forget this. For this I am grateful.
I was lucky to have mum and dad for nearly ten years and, luckier still, to have lived another twenty on top. I know there will always be a sore, gaping hole that can never be filled, but over time I have learnt how to acknowledge and look after it and, as a result, fully appreciate and enjoy living. I feel Siobhan and Paddy have done the same and for this, and for all that they are and have achieved, I am so proud.

Old Park 2009 said...

Thank you both for sharing such loving thoughts at this sensitive time. Rosaleen and I went to the local church (St Charles Borromeo) and lit candles - it's a beautiful old church and the stained glass sunlight poured in creating a soothing calm within which to reflect on happy times with your mum and dad - and all the wonderful, life-enhancing experiences we've shared with you.

All our love - Andrew & Rosaleen x