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The Hard Part Isn't That They Leave You

Today is the 11th anniversary of my mother's passing. And right now, a friend of mine is dealing with losing a parent to cancer as I did on this day eleven years ago. I've given all the usual advice about giving your loved one permission to let go and how parents will hang on even while suffering if they are afraid for the children or spouse they're leaving behind. What I didn't say was this:

The hard part isn't that they leave you; it's that they leave you behind.

Losing a parent is like having a hole ripped in your heart. And more likely than not, the person you would have looked to most to help you through such grief is the very parent who left you behind. The sage advice, the comfort, even the comfort food -- gone. You're on your own to pick up the pieces of your life and carry on.

It's funny -- as I've gotten older, I realize that there is no one on the planet that I hate so much that I would wish upon them the death of a parent. Even when people I don't particularly care for lose a parent, I become all mushy and supportive. Other than the loss of a child or a spouse, I can't imagine a more profound grief.

I remember saying to my mother in my mind shortly after her passing, "I understand that you have to go. Just don't leave me behind. Take me with you so I don't have to go through what I know I can't handle."

But it wasn't to be. Because it wasn't meant to be.

My mother used to always say that no one brings a child into the world to have them suffer; you bring them into the world that they may live their lives to the fullest. She was big on us children living a bigger and more full life than hers -- traveling, going to college, aspiring to big things. She always wanted more for us than what she had for herself. So the best that I can do -- that any child can do, for that matter -- to honor the passing of a parent is to live the life they gave you to the fullest.

Rest in peace, SWIE.

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