Lady Bracknell was on to something when she announced, “To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness.”
(It’s a long clip, but worth it. Get some tea, sit back, and enjoy.)
It’s definitely a different quality of loss than losing only one. The death of one parent is a dreadful loss of an individual, a shock and a life changing moment. The death of the second parent is the loss of that individual, but also the loss of a way of life. The whole
shared life up to that point. It’s as if the loss of the first parent takes less than half of the circle, or whatever shape “Parents” is. So, of course, that means that the second to go takes more than half of “Parents” with them. Right now, I’m still trying to come to terms with the world without that shape.
I’ve been lucky to have had two parents until adulthood, one until my middle age. We were lucky to have parents who loved us, and each other; who nurtured us and enabled us to be effective functioning adults (well, the Brother anyway). When the Old Man was sick, I was naively optimistic, looking for the happy story, being the gormless doe eyed daughter. I was protected by both parents.
Herself’s illness followed a different line. Neurological illness can sneak up on us, a combination of odd symptoms that can’t be diagnosed until they fall into a particular pattern. Once we had a name for the falling, the double vision, the slurred speech- Progressive Supranuclear Palsy-I became the protector. The internet gave me a wealth of information, and the GP had none. Worse, he didn’t seem to be interested, so I had to do all the finding out. To advocate. To protect. To be a grown up.
We can’t protect each other anymore. I have to muddle along without them both. We all have to do that eventually.
I’ve been at the beach a lot recently (did you not notice?) and got soaked. Time, tide and all that.