When you lose a parent
By Chris Bordelon
Being a parent has been a time of flexible learning for me. It hasn’t all been as easy as I would have liked it to be, but, for the most part, child-rearing followed the course of many children – graduating from elementary school, high school, college, getting married, etc., with a few detours along the way.
But, losing a parent is something that I don’t know how to describe. It’s a hole in your heart that can’t be filled.
I lost my mom to breast cancer 27 years ago, and my dad to colon cancer a month ago at age 85.
While my four siblings and I had a little time to ponder my dad’s passing while he was sick, the day-to-day struggle to keep him as comfortable as possible really didn’t give me adequate moments to ponder the reality of it all. In the back of my mind, I thought he would be with us forever.
My dad was diagnosed in January with a mass in his colon that we thought would be removed in March followed by rehabilitation like any other person after surgery and return to his life as normal as possible. During surgery when we were told he had inoperable cancer that had spread, his colon had been rerouted and he had weeks to months to live, it was like a gut-punch. Everything changed in an instant.
We learned quickly to be the medical professionals and caregivers, as best as we could, that he needed – all with the help from hospice and the kindnesses of friends and family. Having the faith that he taught us and reinforced throughout our lives is what got me through.
I know we were blessed to have him as long as we did. In fact, he often marveled at how long he was alive, considering his father died of a heart attack in his early 50s, and my dad had heart problems. The funny part is that it was not his heart that killed him.
Even knowing this, not having my dad here any longer is still something I can’t reconcile in my brain.
It’s the little things that continually crop up. I went to call him recently when I drove to my sister’s house across the lake – something I did every time I drove there – to see if he was up for the drive. I turned my desktop calendar, and it was marked as a day for me to be with him. I thought to call him to say his great granddaughter was starting to say words and that I visited our same financial guy.
My dad was my rock, my advisor, my listener. No one can replace him. I miss him every day.
Christine Lacoste Bordelon is associate editor of the Clarion Herald and can be reached at email@example.com.