This is the third post on the topic of adult orphans. Stepping into another’s shoes, I thought I would follow the lead from our writer’s group and write in second person, ‘you.’ Feeling the pain and isolation of losing one’s last relative, I wondered what it might look and feel like to a partner or friend, watching me going through this life changing experience. So here goes……..
I watched you on the day we drove to the hospital for the last time. You sat in the car still and quiet hugging yourself without outwardly doing so. It looked as if you wanted to merge with the upholstery and disappear. Quite understandable, I thought.
At the hospital, the your place of employment, you seemed to come out of the shadow and don your professional mantle. I watched you soothing the front of your coat, smoothing invisible wrinkles. Were you trying to find yourself, the persona of the competent health care professional I wondered?
The nurse greeted us, gently sitting us down. Clearly the worst case scenario had come to pass. You looked at her or was it through her. Did you get it or had the shock removed you from the room? We entered and you walked up to you father touching his chest, you said, “I am glad you are no longer in pain.”
“Let’s go,” you said,”He’s gone.”
I stood there looking at my father-in-law still in the bed, propped up on pillows. He looked asleep and as I looked up I saw your fine ankles leave the room.
It was easy at first, the funeral arrangements, the funeral and the time I took off. You cried at times but walked through the storm. Initially I felt scared leaving you, taking the children with me to the supermarket. You would be totally alone for the first time; would you break? It scared me more than it bothered you.
Time passed and I returned to work and my recreational pursuits but you stayed in a place removed from me. In time a thick mist began to separate us and the grief you felt began to replace some of the intimacy we once shared. I watched you but did not know what to do. There seemed to be no bridges.
You tried to explain it to me and I listened with my ears, a vortex of red hot pain, flashing anger and grey despair turned you into someone more needy and vulnerable. I wasn’t sure I could relate to that person. I just wanted you to be the happy, spontaneous and expansive person you used to be. Who was this new you and when would it all end?
Many years have passed, I have my parents and siblings but you are different to the girl I once met. You still wear the shawl of an adult orphan.