My friend K lost her mother yesterday. I reacted as any Ohioan would: I made a meatloaf, two roast chickens, scalloped potatoes and a green bean casserole and headed over (she has four teenagers; I'll be surprised if there's anything left today). This death was not unexpected; her mom has been fighting cancer for several years. But it was still incredibly painful for her and her husband (who lost his mother to cancer about 10 years ago) and for the girls.
K's handling all this with as much grace as one can muster when you work full-time and parent four kids and barely have time to clip your own toenails, let alone grieve for a few days. She's going to need a lot of extra support for the next few weeks.
I guess we're reaching that age when we start losing our parents. I can't say I'm ready for it. When I look in the mirror, I don't see a woman squarely in her 40's and facing true middle age. But I guess she's there. I got my evidence when I was helping K sort pictures last night. There we all were, she and her husband, me and mine, all in a photo from a wedding we attended in 1995. We all were thirty. God! Did I really look that much younger then? And that much thinner??? (OK, I knew I was a lot thinner then, but still).
I look at our families, and I realize that I am that woman I used to see at the grocery store, who had a million cares and kids in tow and clearly was trying to get home to start dinner and proctor homework. And she looked so...old...to me then.
So now it's me who is trying to balance work and parenting, caring for a my own mother, (whose health is failing), looking after my beautiful handful of a child, supporting my husband through a career re-start. And I know why that woman in the grocery store looked as old as that.
But I still feel like, buried within me, is that skinny, young 30-year-old who didn't have any kids and could beat anyone in a dead run up the river bank at the metroparks. Who listened to loud music and would stand in line for two hours to get a Dr. Seuss t-shirt at WOMAD.
I need to spend a little more time with her. I think I might take K with me.