Growing old is a little like childbirth; everybody talks about it but no one prepares you for what it really means.
There is no book. There is no one who can tell you what it will be like to watch the stars in your universe go out, one by one. There is no one who can tell you what it’s like to survive mother, father, brother, sister.
You think about your own health and worry that this ache or that pain won’t get so bad you can’t handle it.You muse on death — yours mostly. What will it be like? Will I be gracious? Scared? Bitchy? But you don’t think about who will die and how you will live through it.
Chronology says it will be your grandparents first then your parents. Intellectually, that can dull the prospect of their loss but still, it does not prepare you for their actual deaths. Pain, sorrow and regret travel with you through the days of their illness, death and “final disposition.” But, as the saying goes, they were old; it was expected.
What happens when chronology fails you? When the unthinkable happens? When one brother dies, slowly and another one, suddenly?
A loss too big to contemplate and then it is a reality — debilitating — knocking me off my slats. Both had brain tumors. Mike died in two months; Bob died in 2 weeks. I died a little with each one and losing them causes me pain every day.
How do you manage it when a loved one’s light flickers then goes out? Drinking doesn’t help. Overeating is not something that appeals to me and frankly, shopping has never been a way for me to deflect reality. Reading helps and so do movies but the reality of losing both of my brothers, facing the loss of my sister and possibly surviving my husband, daughter, grandchildren sits dead center on my chest every minute of every hour of every day. I want to shake it but don’t know how.
That’s the book that still needs writing. Death and Dying for Dummies – any takers?